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Yellow-legged Gull (atlantis, michahellis)




YELLOW-LEGGED GULL(22"-27"; 54"-57") atlantis, michahellis

BILL SHAPE: slighlty shorter, thicker than argenteus; looks stubby w/ steep culmen at tip; 4x eye diam; gon angle small to med.
HEAD SHAPE: chunkier than argenteus; rather square w/ steep forehead, flattish crown; square nape
WING EXTENSION: slightly longer than bill length
POSTURE/HABITS: sturdy proud look w/ full chest and long legs; prefers shorelines; consorts w/ Lesser Black-backed
BILL COLOR: black; some w/ slight flesh base to lower mandible variable, often w/ yellowish base and dark tip as adult w/ black mark often bright to orange- yellow, some duller; gon. spot large and red, often into upper mand; 80% w/ black mark or subterm band in fall
LEG COLOR: pink fleshy or yellowish; rich yellow by spring as adult variable yellow; bright to orange-yellow in spring; very rarely pale flesh (not pink)
IRIS/ORB RING: dark dark on most; red orb ring by summer often dark dull gray-yellow to bright lemon; dark very rare; orb ring red to orange-red
HEAD: many quite white-headed w/ thin line behind eye; others w/ streaky crown and nape w/ white background and white under and behind aurs white w/ dark smudge in front and under eye, line behind; possibly thin streaks on crown and nape; splotchy collar as adult; more likely to have thin streaks white w/ variable fine streaks from eye to rear crown; may be on nape and auriculars; most white by Dec.
UNDERPARTS: fairly white w/ streaky breast band and flanks; undt. covs white w/ sharp dark bars white w/ splotchy breast sides white white
black black black w/ tiny A-spots or white crescents A-spots evenly spaced; A9-10 same size as eye; A7-8 slightly larger
(in flight):
dark outer Ps w/ pale window on inner Ps, due to pale inner webs of inner Ps, subtle from above, more obvious from below; 50% of michahellis show small pale oval on inner webs of inner Ps; window faint or lacking on atlantis blackish outer Ps w/ pale window on inner Ps; more obvious from below black w/ small mirror on P10 only; other- wise as adult extensive black area; large (may be terminal) or med mirror on P10; half have mirror on P9; P5 always w/ black band; P4 and even P3 may have black marks; similar from below w/ pale area med pale gray
(in flight):
dark w/ pale fringe above and below; underwing covs rather dark blackish w/ pale fringe; fairly dark below; under- wing covs w/ dark rows as adult adult gray w/ bold white trailing edge, 1/2 to 1/3 bill length
TERTIALS: solid dark, nearly black, w/ broad pale tip; some white notches possible dark w/ irreg mottled pale tips as adult adult gray w/ white crescent, about 2/3 bill length
GREATER COVERTS: outer feathers solid dark g-b w/ subterm spots; inner ones more spotted; atlantis may be more solid dark irreg pattern of dark g-b and adult gray adult gray adult gray
LESSER & MED COVERTS: rather dark w/ some pale fringes and some pale internal bars many w/ adult gray on median covs; les covs dark g-b w/ some pale fringe adult gray adult gray
SCAPULARS: cream, fading to white, w/ large subterm anchors and dark at base; appearing barred adult gray on most adult gray adult gray w/ small white crescent usually visible
BACK: like scaps, appearing irreg. barred adult gray on most adult gray adult gray is med gray, darker than argenteus, paler than graellsii, same as Common; atlantis is slightly darker, closer to graellsii
RUMP: quite white w/ light irreg bars white white white
TAIL: white w/ blackish tail band, white outermost webs and fringe; some barring at bases like 1W but w/ whiter bases and some mottling on inner retrices; tail band appears sharper white w/ irreg thin jagged black band, not extending to outer retrices white

The was table created by Steve Hampton and is intended to futher our knowledge of gull identification. Please email me at if you have any suggestions for updating or improving this table. Thanks.