Re: Immature Gull Identification

To: "Frank O'Connor" <>,
Subject: Re: Immature Gull Identification
From: Julian Bielewicz <>
Date: Sat, 02 Jan 1999 15:30:13 +1000

At 19:57 1/01/1999 +0800, you wrote:

>It has very yellow bill, feet and legs.  These were very easy to see by eye
>even from some distance.  The upper bill has a faint black tip.  Its shape,
>size, etc were all the same as the nearby Silver Gulls, and I believe that
>this is what it is.

I can't say that over here on the eastern seaboard I have ever observed a
Silver Gull with yellow legs, feet and bill and as you so rightly point out
one would think that a "first mature" would be common enough to have been
seen on numerous occasions.  Here on the Redcliffe Peninsula the Silver Gull
is abundant.  It may of course just be that as we do have so many specimens
over here that I have simply scanned through a flock (looking for that ever
elusive Franklin's Gull)and in looking for a "dark head" have overlooked
yellow bills.

Certainly HANZAB would suggest a "first immature" Silver Gull.  Pringle
(1987) gives "bill and legs yellowish" for immature Silver Gull but does not
distinguish between different stages of immaturity.  He also suggests that
western birds "have dark-tipped bills" which could account for your bill
description.  Harrison (1989) does not refer to this immature bill
colouration.  Nor does Serventy, Serventy & Warham (1971). 

However, allow me to throw in a little "wobbly" to stir up the heart as we
start 1999.  Had it not been for my delightful experience with the 1992
Broome Black-headed Gull I would never had dared venture the suggestion but
if the Black-headed somehow managed to find its way to Australian shores...

Have you considered an abberant Common Gull Larus canus?  It is only a
little larger than our own Silver Gull and has a yellow bill - immatures
have a dark tip to the bill which fades with age.  First winter specimens
have a broadish dark tail band which again fades with age.  A white head
make the dark eye rather a conspicuous feature.

But, as I said, I only throw this in to stir up a few hopes to start 1999
with.  From your description I would concur with your i.d. of Silver Gull
BUT it is intertesting that this yellow bill feature should have gone almost
unnoticed by yourself on the western seaboard and me here on the eastern

Happy New Year to one and all.

Julian Bielewicz
Past President
Queensland Ornitholgical Society

12 Florence Street
Kippa-Ring, Q. 4021

Tel:    +61 7 3283 4921
Fax:    +61 7 3889 4272

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