Documentation of Iceland Gull

Observer Information

Reporter:  Steven Mlodinow  530 Peregrine Circle,   Longmont, CO  80504-8806
Other Observers:  None

Species, Date, Time and Location Information

Species:  Iceland Gull
First Date/Time:  1/3/2017 9:34:00 AM
Last Date/Time:  1/3/2017 9:36:00 AM
Duration (total time in view):  1-2 minutes
County:  Larimer
Specific Location:  Larimer County Landfill
Number:  1
Age:  Immature
Sex:  Unknown
Plumage:  Other/Unknown



Description of the Bird

Flew in from ??? to feed with other gulls at garbage. It circled several times before landing out of view. The bird appeared larger than RB Gulls nearby, but also smaller than HERGs (closer to Herrings than RBGUs). The bill seemed fine in structure, narrow and short. The bird had a ghostly impression in the gray snow-falling landscape, being uniformly pale, rather in contrast to the nearby young Herring Gulls (and paler than the birds I'd ID'd as Thayer's). The body was pale brown above and below with whiter vent. The underwings had a uniform silvery look on flight feathers, the underwing coverts being similar to body in color. The upper tail was uniformly brown, except the base of the outer tail feathers, which seemed paler. The upperwing coverts were the same color as the body, The flight feathers appeared distinctly paler except the secondaries near body, which were darker fading quickly into the pale color of the primaries, not forming a classic "secondary bar".  The outer primaries were a couple shades darker than the inner primaries, except the outermost primary, which seemed all pale. The bill seemed dark with a ? bit of pale near base. In photos, the irides seem a bit paler than the pupil, like ICGU #2 (the first of the three seen, but the second one submitted) but unlike ICGU #1 (bird with great photos). The head was similar in color to body, perhaps a bit of darkness near eye. Notably, the face was paler than the remainder of the head (as in ICGU #1). Yes, this description is quite similar to the bird that I saw a minute or two prior, but the difference in face was distinct. During my last 90 minutes at the dump, there was nearly always a rather pale gull in view, the challenge was identifying and then documenting them.

Similar Species Discussion

The main contender would be THGU or a "Thiceland Gull" -- the name applied to birds that look like THGU x ICGU or are simply variants of one species or the other. Other pale gulls would be distinctly bulkier, larger (among other marks).

The lack of a secondary bar, the overall paleness, and the limited dark on primaries with pale outer primary all point to ICGU (Kumlien's, more subspecifically). The lack of a distinct tail band also favors ICGU over THGU. 

Resources Used

Howell and Dunn's Gull Book, Photos on net from New England and Maritime provinces

Previous Experience

Moderate with Iceland, extensive with Thayer's Gull.


Notes made AFTER observation

Date Documentation Submitted

1/12/2017 4:30:00 PM
Click left or right edges of photos to move through all; click outside image to close

Location Map

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