Herring Gull- Zilvermeeuw (argentatus & argenteus)

(last update: December 15, 2011 )

Herring Gull - 3cy April

50 shades of grey - upperpart grey tones in gulls

Googling 'shades of grey', gulls may not be the first images turning up on your screen, and in fact and to much surprise, there may not be too many gulls in the story of the bestselling book. Still, the pictures are catching, even for the Dutch larophile and may juice the story below.
Several Nearctic species have been recorded in The Netherlands, like Ring-billed Gull, Bonapartes Gull and Franklin's Gull. Which species can be expected next? And which plumage may be the most rewarded to look for? Based on sightings of rare gulls in the Western Palearctic a list of species was created and birds were assigned to 5 groups. Every group contains rare species together with the most similar looking common species.

Group 1
Common Gull - Mew Gull - Ring-billed Gull

Group 2
Thayer’s Gull - Kumlien’s Gull - Iceland Gull

Group 3
Great Black-backed Gull - Kelp Gull - Slaty-backed Gull

Group 4
Glaucous-winged Gull - Glaucous Gull

Group 5
Herring Gull - American Herring Gull - Vega Gull

Group 4 50 shades of grey: Glaucous-winged Gull - Glaucous Gull

Glaucous Gull hyperboreus is an anual winter visitor to The Netherlands. In late winter, when feathers are bleached they are easily identified by the white outer primaries, early winter some birds may be quite patterned. Glaucous Gulls easily hybridise with Herring Gulls, both in Europe and in Canada, these hybrids are called 'Viking Gull' and 'Nelson's Gull' respectively. (In Europe the partner is argentatus, Canada the partner is smithsonianus.) There are no large scale ringing programmes for these regions and therefore it remains unknown in what way the plumage may develop in these hybrids. In most cases its about Herring Gulls showing one or some abberant features, like less black in wing-tip in adults or pale brown outer primaries with pale crescents in first winters and birds then labelled hybrid, but actually we still have no picture of what the paler end of the spectrum should be in pure argentatus or smithsonianus.
Glaucous-winged Gull from eastern Canada is another species commonly hybridising with several gull taxa from that region. There are a few records in the W.P. including the returning bird from Denmark, also photographed spending summer in Arctic Norway.

Glaucous Gull hyperboreus 1st cycle, January 14 2012, Nieuwpoort, Belgium (Marco Valentini). Bi-coloured bill, barred coverts and tertials. Arrow-head pattern on primary tips. Vermiculated pattern on rectrices.

Glaucous-winged Gull glaucescens 1st cycle, March 31 2012, Puget Sound of Washington (Mattheux). In broad-winged species, the secondary tips are well visible underneath the row of greater coverts, creating a "skirt". Note plain brown-washed tertial centres and secondaries and overall pale brown texture.Outer primaries faded brown, without obvious pattern, in colour darker than pale parts of coverts.

Glaucous Gull hyperboreus 2nd cycle, March 01 2013, Scheveningen, the Netherlands (De Vogelaars). Pale yellow iris, pink bill with broad band, outer primaries without any markings, barring on coverts and tail, some grey scapulars.

Glaucous-winged Gull glaucescens 2nd cycle, January 15 2008, Vancouver Island, BC (Guy Monty). Dark iris and outer primary pigmentation about equal to centres of tertials. Looking small-eyed and large-billed. Few new grey scapulars reveal adult grey tone when this bird will grow older.

Glaucous Gull hyperboreus 2nd cycle, March 27 2011, Off New York (Mike Corey). Pale yellow iris, pink bill with broad band, no adult-like pattern on inner primaries. Outer primaries without any markings. Glaucous-winged Gull glaucescens 3rd cycle, January 13 2013, Mukilteo, WA. (Nick Dean). Dark iris and outer primary pigmentation just a hint darker than upperparts. Looking small-eyed and large-billed. Still small primary tips (3rd gen) and broad band on bill.
Glaucous Gull hyperboreus JP370 1st cycle, January 04 2012, Bergen, Norway (Arild Breistøl). Pale bird. Probably male. Glaucous-winged Gull glaucescens sub-adult, January 13 2013, Mukilteo, WA. (Nick Dean). Dark iris, purple orbital ring and outer primary pigmentation just a hint darker than upperparts. Looking small-eyed and large-billed. Black spot on bill.
Glaucous Gull hyperboreus adult, April 10 2012, Vardø, Norway (Tormod Amundsen). Unmarked primaries. Glaucous-winged Gull glaucescens adult, March 18 2010, Fraser River, BC. (Tony Fox). Dark iris and outer primary pigmentation just a hint darker than upperparts. Looking small-eyed and large-billed. Note pinkish purple orbital ring.
Glaucous Gull hyperboreus pallidissimus adult, July 17 2006, Beringowsky, E Russia (Auf). Unmarked primaries. Ssp pallidissimus has palest grey upperparts and is largest race.

Glaucous-winged Gull glaucescens adult, April 04 2010, Seattle, Washington (Dennis Cheasebro). Dark iris and outer primary pigmentation just a hint darker than upperparts. Looking small-eyed and large-billed.

Glaucous Gull hyperboreus barrovianus adult, June 12 2004, Alaska, USA (Pete Morris). Unmarked primaries. Sspbarrovianus has longer wings and is smaller than nominate race.

Glaucous-winged Gull glaucescens 7CY, January 25 2012, Aarhus, Denmark. Picture: Kent Olssen. Returning adult bird in Denmark. Note slate grey primaries, slightly darker than upperparts.

HYBRIDS
Both Glaucous and Glaucous-winged Gulls are known to hybridise, in some areas quite commonly. Especially when backcrosses are involved (F2 population and even F3) the picture may get unclear if one really deals with pure birds. Some pictures of assumed hybrid are below.

Nelson's Gull (smithsonianus x hyperboreus) 1st cycle, November 08 2009, Palmer Landfill (Kirk Zufelt). Like Glaucous Gull, except dark pigmentation in the outer primaries (Herring influence). Olympic Gull (occidentalis x glaucescens) 1st cycle, October 15 2006, Vancouver Island, BC (Guy Monty). Intense mottling with brown (not black) primaries.
Nelson's Gull (smithsonianus x hyperboreus) 1st cycle, January 14 2007, Sault Ste. Marie Landfill (Kirk Zufelt). Like Glaucous Gull, except dark pigmentation in the outer primaries. Olympic Gull (occidentalis x glaucescens) 1st cycle, October 28 2011, Clallam County, WA (Steve Mlodinow). Note the dark mask of a Western Gull and the rather dark plumage overall with more GW Gull like primaries. Overall much bulkier than Herring Gull.
Nelson's Gull (smithsonianus x hyperboreus) 2nd cycle, March 17 2007, Newfoundland (Bruce Mactavish). Note primary pattern.

Olympic Gull (occidentalis x glaucescens) 2nd cycle, January 02 2012, Gray's Harbor, WA (Amar Ayyash). Bulky bird. Mottled texture as in Glaucous-winged, medium grey tail and primaries as in Western, pale grey upperparts intermediate.

Nelson's Gull (smithsonianus x hyperboreus) 2nd cycle, 2nd cycle, December 24 2007, Newfoundland (Kirk Zufelt). Head shape and especially primary pigmentation not good for pure Glaucous Gull.

Olympic Gull (occidentalis x glaucescens) 3rd cycle, January 02 2012, Gray's Harbor, WA (Amar Ayyash). Bulky bird. Mottled texture as in Glaucous-winged, blackish in tail and primaries indicate Western influence; pale grey upperparts intermediate between parent species.

Nelson's Gull (smithsonianus x hyperboreus) 2nd cycle, March 16 2006, Newfoundland (Bruce Mactavish). Note primary pattern. Olympic Gull (glaucescens x occidentalis) adult, February 16 2009, Portland, Oregon (Lyn Topinka). Purple orbital ring and extensive speckling in iris ( >75%). Medium grey primary pigmentation, obviously darker than upperparts indication for occidentalis influences.
Nelson's Gull (smithsonianus x hyperboreus) 1st cycle, December 23 2008, St John's, Newfoundland (Brandon Holden). Primary pigmentation not good for Glaucous Gull. Olympic Gull (occidentalis x glaucescens) adult, December 03 2008, Vancouver Island, BC (Guy Monty). Pigmentation on primaries intermediate, and grey tone upperparts intermediate.
Viking Gull hyperboreus x argentatus J3064 2nd cycle, May 10 2013, Hirtshals, Denmark. (Henrik Larsen). Pale brown 2nd gen primaries. Band on bill, pale iris.

Glaucous-winged Gull x American Herring Gull adult, December 30 2011, Tukwila, WA (Amar Ayyash). Glaucous-winged is known for its hybrids with Western Gull (so-called Olympic Gulls), but there also seem to be no shortage of Glaucous-winged x Herring Gulls (so-called Cook Inlet Gulls). These Cook Inlet Gulls tend to show smaller bills than Olympic Gulls.

Glaucous-winged Gull glaucescens adult, July 13 2012, Alaska (Brian Henderson). Dark iris and outer primary pigmentation just a hint darker than upperparts. Note pinkish purple orbital ring.

Glaucous-winged Gull x American Herring Gull adult, November 20 2011, Westmoreland Park, OR (Amar Ayyash). Pale eyed bird, with many traits of Glaucous-winged Gull.

Group 1
Common Gull - Mew Gull - Ring-billed Gull

Group 2
Thayer’s Gull - Kumlien’s Gull - Iceland Gull

Group 3
Great Black-backed Gull - Kelp Gull - Slaty-backed Gull

Group 4
Glaucous-winged Gull - Glaucous Gull

Group 5
Herring Gull - American Herring Gull - Vega Gull

rings argenteus: France
2cy argenteus in March, ringed in France. (57822 bytes)Herring Gull WFA 3cy (argenteus), April 11 2011, Calais, France. Picture: J-M Sauvage.
rings argenteus: Belgium
3cy argenteus in April, ringed in Belgium. (101613 bytes)Herring Gull H-117461 3cy, April 06 2004, Westkapelle, the Netherlands (51.33N - 03.25E). Picture Pim Wolf.
3cy argenteus in April, ringed in Belgium. (93939 bytes)Herring Gull H-117873 3cy, April 06 2004, Westkapelle, the Netherlands (51.33N - 03.25E). Picture Pim Wolf.
rings argenteus: Netherlands
3cy argenteus in April, ringed in the Netherlands. (72643 bytes)Herring Gull 5.352.700 3cy (argenteus), April 25 2003, Scheveningen, the Netherlands.
3cy argenteus in April, ringed in the Netherlands. (63975 bytes)Herring Gull 5.365.545 3cy (argenteus), April 05 2003, Brouwersdam, the Netherlands (51.45N-03.52E).
3cy argenteus in April, ringed in the U.K.  (92606 bytes)Herring Gull xx32554 3cy, April 06 2004, Westkapelle, the Netherlands (51.33N - 03.25E). Picture Pim Wolf.
rings argentatus: Norway
2cy argenteus in March, ringed in France. (57822 bytes)Herring Gull (argentatus) 3CY J3514 April 04-05 2013, Boulogne-sur-Mer, NW France. Picture: Jean-Michel Sauvage.
unringed 3cy Herring Gulls
3cy argentatus in January. (80207 bytes)Herring Gull 3CY, April 11 2014, Katwijk, the Netherlands.
3cy argentatus in January. (80207 bytes)Herring Gull 3CY, April 11 2014, Katwijk, the Netherlands.
3cy argentatus in January. (80207 bytes)Herring Gull 3CY, April 17 2014, Katwijk, the Netherlands.
3cy argentatus in January. (80207 bytes)Herring Gull 3CY, April 11 2014, Katwijk, the Netherlands.
3cy argentatus in January. (80207 bytes)Herring Gull 3CY, April 11 2014, Katwijk, the Netherlands.
3cy argentatus in January. (80207 bytes)Herring Gull 3CY, April 09 2014, Katwijk, the Netherlands.
3cy argentatus in January. (80207 bytes)Herring Gull 3CY, April 09 2014, Katwijk, the Netherlands.
3cy argentatus in January. (80207 bytes)Herring Gull 3CY, April 09-11 2014, Katwijk, the Netherlands.
3cy argentatus in January. (80207 bytes)Herring Gull 3CY, April 09 2014, Katwijk, the Netherlands.
3cy argentatus in January. (80207 bytes)Herring Gull 3CY, April 09-11 2014, Katwijk, the Netherlands.
3cy argentatus in January. (80207 bytes)Herring Gull 3CY, April 09 2014, Katwijk, the Netherlands.
3cy argentatus in January. (80207 bytes)Herring Gull 3CY, April 09 2014, Katwijk, the Netherlands.
3cy argentatus in January. (80207 bytes)Herring Gull 3CY, April 17 2014, Katwijk, the Netherlands.
3cy argentatus in January. (80207 bytes)Herring Gull 3CY, April 17 2014, Katwijk, the Netherlands.
3cy argentatus in January. (80207 bytes)Herring Gull 3CY, April 17 2014, Katwijk, the Netherlands.
3cy argentatus in January. (80207 bytes)Herring Gull 3CY, April 11 2014, Katwijk, the Netherlands.
3cy argentatus in January. (80207 bytes)Herring Gull 3CY, April 11 2014, Katwijk, the Netherlands.
3cy argentatus in January. (80207 bytes)Herring Gull 3CY, April 11 2014, Katwijk, the Netherlands.
3cy argentatus in January. (80207 bytes)Herring Gull 3CY, April 09 2014, Katwijk, the Netherlands.
3cy argentatus in January. (80207 bytes)Herring Gull 3CY, April 09 2014, Katwijk, the Netherlands.
3cy argentatus in January. (80207 bytes)Herring Gull 3CY, April 09 2014, Katwijk, the Netherlands.
3cy argentatus in January. (80207 bytes)Herring Gull 3CY, April 09 2014, Katwijk, the Netherlands.
3cy argentatus in January. (80207 bytes)Herring Gull 3CY, April 09 2014, Katwijk, the Netherlands.
3cy argentatus in January. (80207 bytes)Herring Gull 3cy (argenteus), April 17 2012, Noordwijk, the Netherlands.
3cy argentatus in January. (80207 bytes)Herring Gull 3cy (argenteus), April 17 2012, Noordwijk, the Netherlands.
3cy argentatus in April. (57532 bytes)Herring Gull 3cy (argentatus), April 25 2003, Scheveningen, the Netherlands.