01 January 2022

December 2021 Quiz


December. Indiana.

Age: This is a large four-cycle gull. The tips to the primaries (p5-p6) directly below the tertials have what appear to be emarginated, pointed tips. Using this feature alone may be misleading and can easily invite thoughts of a 1st cycle. However, the paling iris, gray scaps and mantle feathers, marbled greater coverts and tertials, all combine for a fairly typical 2nd cycle. 

Identification: The shorter legs, small head, and relatively small bill with no bulging gonys angle, give the impression of a refined gull. Plumage-wise, the uniform upperparts with cream-colored aspect have a frosted appearance. The stippling on the greater coverts and tertials, with pale-edged primary tips recall some pale, white-winged influence. This individual is too compact for our larger and more powerful four-cycle gulls such as Glaucous-winged and its hybrids. It also appears too small for Glaucous x Herring, and the upperparts are too finely patterned for Herring. The brownish primaries with pale edging are rather expected on Iceland Gull, and this individual was indeed identified as such. Usually, a more gradual contrast between primaries, tertials and the body is found in Thayer's. The primaries appear too dark for Kumlien's, however. Suffice to say this is a 2nd cycle Iceland Gull with a mixture of Thayer's and Kumlien's features, with primaries tending toward the former.