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Saturday, August 14, 2004

Mystery Gull at Jamaica Bay

This morning Shane and I located an unusual gull at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. The water level at the East Pond was too high for shorebirds so we walked across the north dyke road to scan for birds on Grassy Bay. Among the dozens of expected terns and gulls was a very white gull. Our first impression was that it was a juvenile Iceland Gull. It's an odd time of year to see one around NYC so we tried to be very careful with our identification and took some photographs. It's possible that it is some type of leucistic gull but I can't be sure. Below are some photos, feel free to add your opinions, just click the comments below the photos.

White winged gull on Grassy Bay

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Underside of wing

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Close-up of head

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Gulls Compared

(Photo credit - Steve Nanz)


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Nice Photos!

My bet is that it's a Laughing Gull, based on the structure of the head and body plus the shape/proportions of the bill and legs. The 'bare part' coloration is bright, but that's not unexpected given that the bird mostly lacks dark pigmentation. I'd didn't want to sign in etc, hope that's ok- Gerard Phillips.

Anonymous said...

What an interesting bird. I'm certainly no gull expert, but I'm leaning towards a partial albino or leucistic Ring-billed Gull, based on the bill shape and ring, and general feel. But once again, gulls are not a group that I'm very good with, so I'm interested in what more knowledgeable people think
In any event, an interesting bird and congratulations

Anonymous said...

Hi Rob,

Great photos. It looks to me like it might be a leucistic Laughing Gull. The shape, bill, and legs look right. Anyway it's a beautiful bird.


Rob J. said...

I found an interesting note in Peter Harrison's "Seabirds: An Identification Guide". On page 349 under Laughing Gull it says, "Albinism, complete and partial, recorded with anomalous bare parts colours (see Atherton & Atherton 1981); see also Weston 91934) for melanistic record."


Anonymous said...

Clearly, a leucistic gull of some kind. Based on probability, and size close to Laughing Gull, my guess would be that it is a Laughing Gull. The head shape does not seem like classic LAGU to me and is rather suggestive of Ring-billed Gull. I think the bill looks a little better, however. One reason I would doubt that this is a RBGU is the dark iris.
Willie D'Anna

Anonymous said...

Dear Rob,
I'd call it a Laughing Gull, too. The structure looks fine, and the bare
parts are as I'd expect for a bird with a genetic chromo-mutation.

Anonymous said...

Hi Rob,
Nice photo's. It seems to me an leugistic Laughing gull. The size of the bird, shape of the head, its stands rather high on its legs. But I think to see an difference in bill-shape: the gony's angle is not that sharp.
Maarten Kaales
The Netherlands

Anonymous said...

Its a leucistic LAGU... the head shape, size, and primary extension all point to this ID... very neat plumage...

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