Herring Gull- Zilvermeeuw (argentatus & argenteus)

(last update: December 15, 2011 )

Herring Gull - 3cy November

Introduction

This website deals with the Herring Gulls of the taxa argentatus and argenteus. Argenteus is an abundant breeding species on Iceland, Britain, NW France, Belgium, the Netherlands and N Germany. The taxon argentatus breeds in NE Europe, from Denmark, the coast of the Baltic Sea, Scandinavia and coast of the White Sea. In the centre of the breeding range (Denmark and the NW German coast), birds show intermediate characteristics, indicating there is a cline in argenteus-argentatus. Argenteus in Western Europe is pale-backed, slightly smaller and with relatively much black in the wing-tip; argentatus in the NE Europe is larger, slightly darker on upper-parts and show less black in the wing-tip.
Due to the large breeding range, there is much intra-specific variation in argentatus, with most large, powerful birds in the northern populations, showing the most darkest upper-parts, longest wing and most white in the outer-wing. In this region, some populations may hold substantial number of yellow-legged argentatus. (referred to as "Finnmark yellow-legged argentatus"). In adult plumage, the black sub-terminal spot on P5 is often lacking or strongly reduced to a diffuse streak, broken at the centre. Sometimes P6 lacks black as well. 
In the Baltic region, other yellow-legged argentatus populations occur ("Baltic yellow-legged argentatus"), with adults showing even brighter yellow legs in summer and the upper-parts only slightly darker than West European argenteus, still much paler than Yellow-legged Gull (michahellis). Those Baltic argentatus often show a black sub-terminal spot on P5 in adult plumage.
On these web-pages, we largely follow P.J. Grant: "Gulls, a guide to identification" and E.K Barth's publication as Contribution No. 86, Zoological Museum, University of Oslo: "The circumpolar systematics of Larus argentatus and Larus fuscus with special reference to the Norwegian populations".

Some difficult birds to age.

Ageing Herring Gulls should be an easy excercise? Well, not always. Below are a few example birds that may be aged wrong, especially when the innerhand and secondaries are not revealed by wing-flapping or preening. First a starting point with easy birds.

Herring Gull (argentatus) DKC 4409352  1st cycle (1CY), December 14 2015, Katwijk, the Netherlands. Picture: Mars Muusse. Ringed as pullus in Denmark, HY 2015. Classic 1st generation flight feathers (primaries, secondaries and tail). Herring Gull (argentatus) DKC 4404232  1st cycle (1CY), November 13 2015, Katwijk, the Netherlands. Picture: Mars Muusse. Ringed as pullus in Denmark, HY 2015. Classic 1st generation flight feathers (primaries, secondaries and tail).
Herring Gull (argenteus) NLA 6175969  2nd cycle (2CY), October 30 2015, Scheveningen, the Netherlands. Picture: Mars Muusse. Ringed as pullus in the Netherlands, HY 2014. Classic 2nd generation flight feathers: brown toned primaries with marbling on P1 and P2, secondaries with extensive dark centres, thus reduced whiet tips and fringes and tail with an obvious full band. No mirror on P10 (diffuse bordered small mirror should be possible in 2nd gen P10). Herring Gull (argenteus) NLA 5465213  2nd cycle (2CY), December 14 2015, Katwijk, the Netherlands. Picture: Mars Muusse. Ringed as pullus in the Netherlands, HY 2014. Classic 2nd generation flight feathers: brown toned primaries with marbling on P1 and P2, secondaries with extensive dark centres, thus reduced whiet tips and fringes and tail with an obvious full band. No mirror on P10 (diffuse bordered small mirror should be possible in 2nd gen P10).
Herring Gull (argentatus) DKC 4298575  3rd cycle (3CY), October 30 2015, Scheveningen, the Netherlands. Picture: Mars Muusse. Ringed as pullus in Denmark, HY 2013. Only very small mirror on P10. Classic 3rd gen inner and central primaries (1) and many adult-like secondaries with white tips and grey on the centre (2), Still much black in 3rd gen rectrices (3). Herring Gull (argenteus) 8.9 3rd cycle (3CY), November 17 2014, Katwijk, the Netherlands. Picture: Mars Muusse. Ringed as pullus in the Netherlands, HY 2012. Classic inner primary pattern for 3rd cycle: adult-like grey P1-P3 and well demarcated black sub-terminal pattern on central primaries. Mirror on P9 and P10. This adult-like pattern is combined with many immature markings in tertials, coverts, tail and bare parts. Secondaries with arrow-head patterns.
Herring Gull (argentatus) KY61  3rd cycle (3CY), September 15 2010, Westkapelle, the Netherlands. Pictures Pim Wolf. Ringed as pullus in Murmansk, N Russia, HY 2008. 3rd gen flight feathers: adult-like primaries and secondaries, though with brown cast, still some black in the tail. Herring Gull (argentatus) KH89  3rd cycle (3CY), October 31 2011, IJmuiden, Netherlands. Picture: Mars Muusse. Ringed as pullus in Murmansk, N Russia, HY 2009. 3rd gen flight feathers: adult-like primaries and secondaries, still some black in the tail.
Herring Gull (argenteus) Y.BDS 4th cycle (4CY), November 22 2015, IJmuiden, the Netherlands. Picture: Mars Muusse. Ringed as pullus in the Netherlands, HY 2012. Much adult-like, with some brown wash on greater primary coverts. Herring Gull (argenteus) NLA 6169423  4th cycle (4CY), December 08 2014, Katwijk, the Netherlands. Picture: Mars Muusse. Ringed as pullus in the Netherlands, HY 2011. Mirror on P10. Last vestiges of immaturity on outer coverts. Much black on bill and pink base.

Now a few problematic birds, but fortunately ringed.

Herring Gull (argenteus) CCAD 3rd cycle (4CY), February 07 2010, Oostduinkerke, Belgium. Picture: Peter Adriaens. Ringed at Zeebrugge, Belgium, HY 2007. This bird has 3rd gen inner primaries, which look extremely like a 2nd-cycle. Herring Gull (argenteus) XY 3rd cycle (3CY), August 16 2015, Maasvlakte, the Netherlands. Picture: Leo Snellink. Ringed at Maasvlakte, the Netherlands, HY 2013. This bird has 3rd gen inner primaries, which look extremely like a 2nd-cycle.
Herring Gull (argentatus) JN717 3rd cycle (4CY), March 15 2014, Sandøya, Norway. Picture: Ingar Støyle Bringsvor. Ringed April 2012 at Tran haven, Norway, HY 2011. Very retarded in plumage, still with brown buffish cast over the inner primaries, not adult-like grey with white tips. Only few grey feathers, small tips on primaries and no mirror on P10. All secondaries with brown tones and marbling. Yellow iris. Herring Gull (argentatus) JN596 3rd cycle (4CY), March 17 2014, Sandøya, Norway. Picture: Ingar Støyle Bringsvor. HY Bird ringed September 2011 in Bergen, Norway. All coverts heavily patterned. Grey saddle. Small tips on primaries and small mirror on P10. Adult-like P1-P3 in flight and blackish (not faded brown) sub-terminal markings on central primaries indicate true age.
Herring Gull (argenteus) FT 3rd cycle (3CY), December 28 2009, Koksijde, Belgium. Picture: Peter Adriaens. Ringed at Moerdijk, The Netherlands, HY 2007. Advanced bird, with adult-like primaries and secondaries and mirrors on both P9 and P10. Herring Gull (argentatus) KJEC7 3rd cycle (3CY), October 20 2007, Tampere dump, Finland. Picture: Visa Rauste. Ringed 2005 in Karelia, N Russia. Retarded in plumage, still with brown buffish cast over the inner primaries, not adult-like grey with white tips. Central primaries with blackish subterminal bands. Note mirror on P10. Right wing P9 growing late, with distinct mirror.

This set of birds was ringed, and therefore had provenance on population and true age. In birds which are not ringed, this may remain a problem, and therefore birds may sometimes better be labeled "sub-adult" or "immature", without being specific on calendar year age or cycle.

For Herring Gulls, you may expect all birds in 2nd cycle should be easy ducks to age. The gut feeling is that "problematic birds seem to be more often retarded for their age-cohort, that very advanced brds".

 

Herring Gull sub-adult, November 12 2015, Katwijk, the Netherlands. Picture: Mars Muusse. Likely in 3rd cycle, with much white in the tail and a few (inner) secondaries that show a grey centre and white tip. However, secondaries and primaries much 2nd gen like with thin arrowhead patterns, even on P1-P3. Central primaries with brown pattern, not really blackish. No mirror on P10 and no bold white tips on outer primaries. Herring Gull sub-adult, November 12 2015, Katwijk, the Netherlands. Picture: Mars Muusse. Probably in 3rd cycle. Tricky bird to age as the primary pattern is intermediate and secondary pattern looks advanced for 2nd gen; and the tail seems to be 3rd gen, lacking the full band. Spot near the tip of P3 better fits 2nd gen, and absence of white tips on P3-P6 would be odd for 3rd gen central primaries? Mirror on P10.
 
Herring Gull sub-adult, August 22 2015, IJmuiden, the Netherlands. Adult-like new flight feathers. Old secondaries very 2nd gen like and old P10 brown with faint mirror, not unlike 2nd gen P10, but might well be 3rd gen.  

 

rings argenteus: U.K.
ad LBBG in winter, ringed in the Netherlands. (65647 bytes)Herring Gull (argenteus) 3cy KU3T November 13-15 2012, Boulogne-sur-Mer, NW France. Picture: Jean-Michel Sauvage.
adult argenteus in October, ringed in the Netherlands. (35116 bytes)Herring Gull (argenteus) 3CY RU1.T November 22 2013, Boulogne-sur-Mer, France (50°43'34"N 001°35'04"E). Picture: Jean-Michel Sauvage.
ad LBBG in winter, ringed in the Netherlands. (65647 bytes)Herring Gull (argenteus) 3cy VM9T November 06 2012, Boulogne-sur-Mer, NW France. Picture: Jean-Michel Sauvage.
ad LBBG in winter, ringed in the Netherlands. (65647 bytes)Herring Gull (argenteus) 3cy YR7T November 06 2012, Boulogne-sur-Mer, NW France. Picture: Jean-Michel Sauvage.
rings argenteus: Belgium
1cy argenteus in November, ringed in Belgium. (25637 bytes)Herring Gull CNAY 3cy (argenteus), November 13 2009, Westkapelle, the Netherlands.
2cy argentatus in February, ringed in Norway. (75189 bytes)Herring Gull (argenteus) MTAS 3CY (3rd cycle), November 13 2011, Zeebrugge, Belgium. Picture: Peter Adriaens. 
3cy argenteus in November, ringed in Belgium. (65637 bytes)Herring Gull H-107901 3cy (argenteus), November 16 2002, Westkapelle, the Netherlands (51.33N 03.25E).
3cy argenteus in November, ringed in Belgium. (79796 bytes)Herring Gull H-127087 3cy (argenteus), November 15 2003, Westkapelle, the Netherlands (51.33N 03.25E).
juvenile LBBG in October, ringed in Norway. (131273 bytes)Herring Gull H-136716 3cy, November 26 2006, Oostende, Belgium.
rings argenteus: the Netherlands
1cy argenteus in August, ringed in Belgium. (90559 bytes)Herring Gull K.XAY adult (argenteus), November 14 2012, Katwijk, the Netherlands. Also as 2cy.
1cy argenteus in November, ringed in Belgium. (25637 bytes)Herring Gull (argenteus) 8.9 3CY, November 17 2014, Katwijk, the Netherlands.
sub-adult argenteus in October, ringed in Belgium. (87638 bytes)Herring Gull argenteus X6 3CY, November 13 2015, Katwijk, the Netherlands.
sub-adult argenteus in October, ringed in Belgium. (87638 bytes)Herring Gull 3cy-4cy 3V (argenteus) November 13 2009 & September 23 2010, Westkapelle, the Netherlands.
3cy argenteus in November, ringed in the Netherlands. (72752 bytes)Herring Gull 5.363.361 3cy (argenteus), November 08 2003, IJmuiden, the Netherlands (52.27N 04.33E).
3cy hybrid argenteus x michahellis in October, ringed in the Netherlands. (66565 bytes)hybrid HG x YLG EP30 3cy (argenteus x michahellis), November 07 1999, Westkapelle, the Netherlands (51.33N, 03.25E). Picture by Pim Wolf. Known hybrid from the Netherlands (Neeltje Jans), ringed June 23 1997, offspring of male michahellis, (orange EAY8) and female argenteus.
rings argentatus: Russia
adult argentatus in November, ringed in Denmark. (56984 bytes)Herring Gull (argentatus) KW65 3CY, November 18 2014, Terschelling, the Netherlands. Picture: Jacob Jan de Vries.
unringed 3cy Herring Gulls
2cy argenteus in March, ringed in France. (57822 bytes)Herring Gull (argentatus) 3cy, November 20 2012, Katwijk, the Netherlands.
2cy argenteus in March, ringed in France. (57822 bytes)Herring Gull (argentatus) 3cy, November 21 2014, Katwijk, the Netherlands.
2cy argentatus in November. (81321 bytes)Herring Gull argentatus 3CY, November 19 2015, Scheveningen, the Netherlands.
2cy argenteus in March, ringed in France. (57822 bytes)Herring Gull (argentatus) 3CY, November 26 2013, Katwijk aan Zee, the Netherlands.
2cy argenteus in March, ringed in France. (57822 bytes)Herring Gull (argenteus) 3cy, November 20 2012, Katwijk, the Netherlands. No mirror on P10.
2cy argenteus in March, ringed in France. (57822 bytes)Herring Gull 3CY, November 12 2015, Katwijk, the Netherlands.
2cy argenteus in March, ringed in France. (57822 bytes)Herring Gull 3CY, November 26 2015, Katwijk, the Netherlands.
2cy argenteus in March, ringed in France. (57822 bytes)Herring Gull 3CY, November 26 2015, Katwijk, the Netherlands.
2cy argenteus in March, ringed in France. (57822 bytes)Herring Gull 3CY, November 12 2015, Katwijk, the Netherlands.
2cy argenteus in March, ringed in France. (57822 bytes)Herring Gull sub-adult, November 12 2015, Katwijk, the Netherlands.
2cy argenteus in March, ringed in France. (57822 bytes)Herring Gull 3CY, November 12 2015, Katwijk, the Netherlands.
2cy argenteus in March, ringed in France. (57822 bytes)Herring Gull 3cy, November 21 2014, Katwijk, the Netherlands.
2cy argenteus in March, ringed in France. (57822 bytes)Herring Gull 3cy, November 21 2014, Katwijk, the Netherlands.
2cy argenteus in March, ringed in France. (57822 bytes)Herring Gull sub-adult, November 12 2015, Katwijk, the Netherlands.
2cy argentatus in November. (81321 bytes)Herring Gull 3CY, November 19 2015, Scheveningen, the Netherlands.
2cy argenteus in March, ringed in France. (57822 bytes)Herring Gull sub-adult, November 12 2015, Katwijk, the Netherlands.
2cy argenteus in March, ringed in France. (57822 bytes)Herring Gull 3CY, November 26 2013, Katwijk aan Zee, the Netherlands.
2cy argenteus in March, ringed in France. (57822 bytes)Herring Gull 3CY, November 12 2015, Katwijk, the Netherlands.
2cy argenteus in March, ringed in France. (57822 bytes)Herring Gull 3CY, November 12 2015, Katwijk, the Netherlands.
2cy argenteus in March, ringed in France. (57822 bytes)Herring Gull 3CY, November 12 2015, Katwijk, the Netherlands.
2cy argenteus in March, ringed in France. (57822 bytes)Herring Gull 3CY, November 12 2015, Katwijk, the Netherlands.
2cy argenteus in March, ringed in France. (57822 bytes)Herring Gull 3CY, November 12 2015, Katwijk, the Netherlands.
2cy argenteus in March, ringed in France. (57822 bytes)Herring Gull 3CY, November 26 2013, Katwijk aan Zee, the Netherlands.
2cy argenteus in March, ringed in France. (57822 bytes)Herring Gull 3cy, November 11 2014, Katwijk, the Netherlands.
2cy argenteus in March, ringed in France. (57822 bytes)Herring Gull sub-adult / 3cy, November 20 2012, Katwijk, the Netherlands. Mirror on P10.
2cy argenteus in March, ringed in France. (57822 bytes)Herring Gull 3cy, November 20 2012, Katwijk, the Netherlands. Probably 3cy argentatus bird. P6 fully grown, P7 growing, P8 fully grown, P9-P10 growing.
2cy argentatus in November. (81321 bytes)Herring Gull 3cy (argenteus), November 23 2011, Scheveningen, the Netherlands.
2cy argentatus in November. (81321 bytes)Herring Gull 3cy (argenteus), November 23 2011, Scheveningen, the Netherlands.
2cy argentatus in November. (81321 bytes)Herring Gull argentatus 3CY, November 19 2015, Scheveningen, the Netherlands.
2cy argentatus in November. (81321 bytes)Herring Gull argentatus 3CY, November 19 2015, Scheveningen, the Netherlands.
2cy argentatus in November. (81321 bytes)Herring Gull 3cy (argentatus), November 23 2011, Scheveningen, the Netherlands.
2cy argentatus in November. (81321 bytes)Herring Gull 3cy (argentatus), November 10 2011, Scheveningen, the Netherlands.
probably hybrid argenteus x michahellis in November. (68679 bytes)probably hybrid HG x YLG 3cy (argenteus x michahellis), November 28 1999, Westkapelle, the Netherlands (51.33N 03.25E). Pictures by Pim Wolf.