Wednesday, October 8, 2014

First Cycle Lesser Black-backed Gull

One of my goals for this fall/winter was to find a first cycle Lesser Black-backed Gull (LBBG). I've been able to find adult LBBGs during the last two winters but a first cycle bird is more difficult to find due to similarities with both Herring (HERG) and Great Black-backed Gulls (GBBG). On October 7, 2014 I ended up finding a first cycle bird at Dennis Point Wharf in Lower West Pubnico, Yarmouth County.

Alpha codes (LBBG, HERG, GBBG...) for all Nova Scotia birds can be found on the Birds of NS page of this website.

First Cycle Lesser Black-backed Gull - Pubnico - October 7, 2014.

Versus Great Black-backed Gull

Our most similar gull to an adult LBBG in NS is the GBBG. See the list below for a few major differences between these two species. Compared to a GBBG, a LBBG is:

  • Overall smaller
  • Thinner billed
  • Lighter mantled
  • Longer winged (longer wing projection past the tail)
  • Yellow legged (vs. flesh pink)
    [Gulls of the Americas, Howell & Dunn]

The photo below helps to compare an adult LBBG (photographed on Feb. 23, 2014 in Pubnico) with an adult GBBG. Notice structure and colour differences.

LBBG (L) vs. GBBG (R)

Finding a first cycle LBBG among the hundreds of first cycle HERG and GBBG is a trickier task. The differences are more subtle. Compared to a GBBG, a LBBG is/has:

  • Darker winged (plain, dark, unpatterned greater secondary coverts)
  • A wider, more solid dark tail band
  • An overall colder colour
    [Gulls of the Americas, Howell & Dunn]

LBBG (L) vs. GBBG (R)

Versus Herring Gull

Compared to a first cycle HERG, a first cycle LBBG is/has:


  • More contrast between the uppertail coverts and dark tail band
  • Darker winged (plain, dark, unpatterned greater secondary coverts)
  • Lacks the pale inner primaries of a HERG
  • An overall colder colour
    [Gulls of the Americas, Howell & Dunn]



LBBG (L) vs. HERG (R)

I've just covered some of the major identification field marks. More information can be found here:

Gulls of the Americas (book)

Lesser Black-backed Gull - Pubnico - October 7, 2014.

3 comments:

  1. Alix, in your spare time, ya gotta write a book!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks John. I would love to write something at some point.

    ReplyDelete