Thursday, September 13, 2018

American Herring Gull

The American herring gull or Smithsonian gull is a subspecies of the herring gull. Adults are white with a pale gray back and wings, black wingtips with white spots and a white rear edge to the wing, and pink legs (although the legs can have a bluish tinge, or even be yellow). The bill is yellow with a red spot on the lower beak. The eye is yellow with a yellow or orange ring around it. In winter, the head and neck are streaked with brown. 
American herring gull
It takes four years for the bird to mature and they are highly variable during this period. First winter birds are gray/brown with a dark tail, brown rump with dark bars, dark eyes and bill with a paler base. Second winter birds have a pale eye and bill with a black tip, and begin to show gray feathers on the back. Third winter birds are closer to adults, but have some black on the bill, brown on the body and wings and a black band on the tail. 
The brown bird is a first winter herring gull (see picture of juvenile).
A juvenile (top) and an adult (below). Note the yellow eyes, pinkish legs, white wing edges and yellow bill with red spot on lower bill. 
A first winter (juvenile) at top, a second winter bird at left and an adult at the right. 
The breeding range extends across northern North America, from  central and southern Alaska, over most of Canada, except the Arctic and southwest, and from Maine to North Carolina. 
A juvenile.
A juvenile.
We saw the birds in my photos in Passamaquoddy Bay outside Saint Andrews, New Brunswick, Canada.   

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