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QUIZ GULL #1: what is this?

Hints: there was no pale window on the inner primaries in flight.

photo is copyrighted 1998

The correct answer to Gull Quiz #1 is juvenile California Gull. The all-black bill is rarely seen off the breeding grounds, but can last a few months. Not surprisingly, this picture was taken in late summer-- on August 27 in Santa Barbara, CA by Don DesJardin. The crisp edges of the scapulars and coverts mark it as a juvenile. Due to the black bill, this bird actually closely resembles a juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gull, from which it is best distinguished by a nearly solid tail (not visible here). LBB has much more white at the base of the outer retrices than any California Gull. LBB should also be a tad larger and have a whiter head, though these marks are more subjective. Also, one would only see a California Gull like this in late summer, when young LBBs are much farther north. I chose this as the first quiz bird because I was badly fooled by a California Gull just like this one last year in Tacoma, WA. For pics of 2 more black-billed juv. California Gulls, click here.

Note very many dared guess at this bird. Of those who did, here are the results:

juv Lesser Black-backed Gull 4
Heermann's Gull 1
juv California Gull 5 (36% correct)
old world Herring Gull sp. 1
Slaty-backed Gull 2
imm. Laughing Gull 1