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black headed gull query

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Old Saturday 5th March 2011, 09:14   #1
waxwing33
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black headed gull query

I hope you don't think me daft for asking this but although i'm quite good on small birds i am hopeless on gulls and sea birds etc
I read that black headed gulls only have the dark heads in summer but i am seeing lots with dark heads now is that because they are migrants? Also few with patchy bits of black on too. Im just curious adn would like to be more knowledegable on these birds

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Old Saturday 5th March 2011, 09:28   #2
WACCOE
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No at this time of year they start to get their summer plumage,you will see gulls with various degrees head colour.
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Old Saturday 5th March 2011, 09:30   #3
TwoDipsfromAmsterdam
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Certainly not a daft question! They can start to acquire the "black" hoods (they are actually a dark shade of brown) as early as January although most will start later in February and March. They retain a smudge of "black" throughout the winter. A useful gull to start learning about ageing as there are usually plenty around in the winter and they are reasonably tolerant of humans.

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Old Saturday 5th March 2011, 09:31   #4
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Hi waxwing33

Gosh - I don't do gulls, but I'll give it a go.

Only adults have the all black head (actually it's brown!) in the breeding season. Immature birds have varying amounts depending on their age. They can moult into the full head as early as December, I think.

You can read more about them in Opus HERE.

D
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Old Saturday 5th March 2011, 09:57   #5
Jim M.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by waxwing33 View Post
I read that black headed gulls only have the dark heads in summer
The source of your confusion is probably an odd terminological choice in the Collins guide--referring to breeding (or alternate) plumage as "summer" plumage. That's a misnomer. Other guides such as Sibley, use "breeding" and then have appx. months the bird retains that plumage--in case of BHGU Feb-Aug.

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Old Saturday 5th March 2011, 11:27   #6
waxwing33
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ah, thank you all for your quick and informative replies. My book is an old RSPB beginners book of birds. Keep meaning to get myself a more up to date version.
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