Thursday, February 16, 2012

birding without labels

No this isn't some new radical approach to birding. It's gull talk 101! 


Had the chance to photograph some spectacular gulls, that are either Kumlien's Iceland Gulls (dark end of the spectrum) or very pale Thayer's Gulls. And that's the beauty of these birds! For those unfamiliar, the two "species" provide constant headaches for listers and gull fanatics alike. Out west, where Kumlien's is the rarity, there is no way in heck you could consider these two birds (pics below) anything but Thayer's Gulls. Yet in Newfoundland, (where Thayer's is the rarity) these birds would be run-of-the-mill Kumlien's Iceland Gulls. 

Have a look at the first pics: 

Lots of blackish markings in the primaries (fairly extensive in the outer primaries (P10-6) yet P5 has no markings. A sizeable bird, with deep pink legs, and a pale eye. 

Bird #2 - 

A paler bird in the wingtips, being both grayer and less extensive in the outer primaries, yet it also has a sizable mark on P5, unlike the above bird. Paler legs, bill, eye than the first bird as well. 

-- and isn't that the beauty of seeing these birds in Ontario? Where we really don't have to call them anything. I think we are the best situated "gullers" in the world to explore this ID problem, since both species are regular in the province. In locations where one "species" is a mega-rarity, too many intermediate birds are lumped as "Just an odd Kumlien's or Thayer's" in their respective zones. 


I'm of the mind that bird #1 probably has a bit more Thayer's genetics in it, while the bottom bird probably has a bit more Kumlien's. But do we really know?


Also had this banded Herring Gull. Already sent the info to the bird banding office:

First time I've done it by email. Will update the blog when I hear more about it, unless someone here knows ?!?!


I'm going to apologize in advance to any frequent blog readers who don't enjoy postings about gulls........ 

1 comment:

  1. I love it. And thanks for the banded bird link, I'll pass on the details of another banded herring gull I observed.