• Welcome to BirdForum, the internet's largest birding community with thousands of members from all over the world. The forums are dedicated to wild birds, birding, binoculars and equipment and all that goes with it.

    Please register for an account to take part in the discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.
ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

European Herring Gull Plumage (1 Viewer)

Aladdin

Well-known member
Thailand
Dear members and bird watchers

I have some different pictures of European Herring Gulls that I took in August in United Kingdom and Germany

Now I have tried to identify them but I´m very uncertain about the age.

Picture 1: Juvenile
Picture 2: Juvenile going to the first winter

Taken the same day and at the same place. Is the difference because the bird in picture 1 is born much later?

Picture 3: Bird going to the 2nd winter, pink bill with black dot

Picture 4: Bird going to the third winter and will have babies next summer

Picture 5: Adult breeding, and if I´m right the bill will turn pinkish and the red dot will fade. And grey coloured in the white when they turn in to non breeding plumage

Anyone that can be so kind to tell me if I´m right or wrong?

Kind regards and happy birding
Aladdin
 

Attachments

  • juvenile.jpg
    juvenile.jpg
    194.1 KB · Views: 21
  • first-winter.jpg
    first-winter.jpg
    193.4 KB · Views: 44
  • second.jpg
    second.jpg
    100.6 KB · Views: 22
  • 3rd-winter.jpg
    3rd-winter.jpg
    161.6 KB · Views: 25
  • adult.jpg
    adult.jpg
    173.5 KB · Views: 18
Pic 2 I'd say is a late 1st summer moulting to 2nd winter - look at those extremely worn (down to quills!) retained 1st-year greater coverts.


Agree on the others, except pic 4 will probably wait another year yet before 'having babies' :-O
 
Gulls are definitely not my strong point but pic2 looks as if a Caspian Gull has played a part in the parentage. Somehow I don't think it is a pure Caspian e.g. due to the 'dirty' face. Hybridisation with Yellow-legged or Herring is happening regularly in mixed colonies in Eastern Germany/Western Poland. Would be good to get an opinion from Lou or Tib...
 
i see no need to through in caspian gull as a parent for the second bird, roland. scap pattern (old 2nd generation) is barred like in most HG, coverts have been replaced in spring and look already a bit worn which might account for the impression of caspian/YLG look but these are comfortably well in the timing and variation of herring gull. neither does structure give obvious clues towards another taxon. this said with the caveat that you never know 100% if there isn't a remote ancestrary of something different in these large gulls :)
 
Thank you very much Nutcracker and CARERY and lou salomon!

I just caught interest of the gulls after having spent a week in a hide in the forests in Finland looking for bears.

I never been interested in gulls as I have not been able to identify them

There were gulls with different plumages and I was actually able to identify the gulls as I was studying my book while waiting for the bears. Now I learned about the age plumage and I have got very interested.

I thought picture 1 and 2 was a young Herring Gull, but they really look a little different.

Nutcracker, the 4th picture, coming the third winter as I guess. So they need to be 4 winters before they have their babies? When their in their last winter before mature, are they by then looking like adult mature?

Or can you still see the difference on the 4th winter?

And one more question, how do they count. I have counted the first winter then the first summer. But now after reading your post I think I might be wrong.

They are born in the summer - first winter- second summer, is this correct_

Kind regards and thank you for all the help?
Aladdin
 

Attachments

  • 76.jpg
    76.jpg
    246.8 KB · Views: 23
  • 79.jpg
    79.jpg
    301.2 KB · Views: 23
  • 86.jpg
    86.jpg
    150.2 KB · Views: 24
in your new pics you have an adult 'baltic gull' = larus fuscus fuscus (nominate lesser black-backed gull), second an adult common gull and in the last pic a yellow legged adult herring gull. it takes quite some time and a lot of tedious reading and occupation to really get into gulls, alladin, nevertheless it's a highly interesting subject. have a look into this website: http://gull-research.org/
as per age classes: juvenile (no replaced feathers right after fledging) - 1st winter - first summer - 2nd winter - 2nd summer etc.; but there are better ways of telling, like 1cy, 2cy...(cy = calendar year); or even more sophisticated: 1st cycle, 2nd cycle etc. - this system works with moult cycles.
 
Thank you lou salomon

So the first cycle starts in the summer when they are born and the second starts in the 2nd summer? Thank you!

The web page you suggest looks promising and I will study. The first sign you learn abot identifying a bird makes you so happy, then BOOM, there is another thing and you get confused. But it is very fun!

Thanks for the Yellow legged, I thought it was the sun giving the leg the yellow colour and I put it down as a European Herring Gull

The lesser, I had put it down as a lesser, but now I will look up the Baltic Gull, interesting reading ahead, thanks!


Kind regards
Aladdin
 
Large gulls usually take 4 years to reach breeding age, but often don't actually breed until 5 years old; very rarely they will try to breed (usually unsuccessfully!) when 3 years old. Smaller gulls (e.g. Black-headed Gull) start breeding when just 2 years old.

The plumage progression in large gulls is:
1 egg
2 hatches; downy feathers (0-1 month old)
3 juvenile plumage (1 to 4 or 5 months old, a bit longer in some: Glaucous Gull up to about 10 months?), then a partial moult (mainly mantle feathers)
4 first winter (up to about 10 months old), then a partial moult (small body feathers but not flight feathers)
5 first summer (up to about 16 months old), then a complete moult (including flight feathers)
6 second winter (up to about 22 months old)
7 second summer (up to about 28 months old)
8 ... and so on!
 
i see no need to through in caspian gull as a parent for the second bird, roland. scap pattern (old 2nd generation) is barred like in most HG, coverts have been replaced in spring and look already a bit worn which might account for the impression of caspian/YLG look but these are comfortably well in the timing and variation of herring gull. neither does structure give obvious clues towards another taxon. this said with the caveat that you never know 100% if there isn't a remote ancestrary of something different in these large gulls :)

Thanks Lou! As I said Gulls and I, not exactly a love story...
 
Thank you Nutcracker!

Yes, I hope to get the hang of it. The web page lou salomon sent to me is interesting

Thank you for your help!

Kind regards
Aladdin
 
i see no need to through in caspian gull as a parent for the second bird, roland. scap pattern (old 2nd generation) is barred like in most HG, coverts have been replaced in spring and look already a bit worn which might account for the impression of caspian/YLG look but these are comfortably well in the timing and variation of herring gull. neither does structure give obvious clues towards another taxon. this said with the caveat that you never know 100% if there isn't a remote ancestrary of something different in these large gulls :)

Dear lou salomon

Is it possible to see any age difference between picture 1 and 2. I guess both of them born earlier in the spring/summer? Maybe a month or two in difference age

I also know that some birds are having a second brood. I saw a Barn Swallow nest with very small birds and the parents feeding them. This was in August.

Then I noticed a Barn Swallow coming to feed the babies and this bird didn´t had the long "SPUR" in the back so this was (MY GUESS) a bird from an earlier brood helping the parents feeding the new babies.

I spotted a Black-headed Gull juvenile, picture 1 in the north of Sweden, border to Finland mid July. Then there is a very small Black-headed Gull
(Identified thanks to Steve Arlow, Birdforum) coming out from the grass

The other juvenile chased away the very young one that could hardly fly more than a few meters. Both born the same spring/ summer

Something like this we can see on picture 1 and 2? I guess the picture 1 is much younger than the picture 2

Thank you
Aladdin
 

Attachments

  • black-headed_gull6.jpg
    black-headed_gull6.jpg
    213 KB · Views: 12
  • black-headed_gull7.jpg
    black-headed_gull7.jpg
    319.4 KB · Views: 11
Is it possible to see any age difference between picture 1 and 2. I guess both of them born earlier in the spring/summer? Maybe a month or two in difference age

I also know that some birds are having a second brood. I saw a Barn Swallow nest with very small birds and the parents feeding them. This was in August.

Then I noticed a Barn Swallow coming to feed the babies and this bird didn´t had the long "SPUR" in the back so this was (MY GUESS) a bird from an earlier brood helping the parents feeding the new babies.

I spotted a Black-headed Gull juvenile, picture 1 in the north of Sweden, border to Finland mid July. Then there is a very small Black-headed Gull
(Identified thanks to Steve Arlow, Birdforum) coming out from the grass

The other juvenile chased away the very young one that could hardly fly more than a few meters. Both born the same spring/ summer

Something like this we can see on picture 1 and 2? I guess the picture 1 is much younger than the picture 2

Thank you
Aladdin
Yes, both BH Gulls are juveniles from 2018; the first bird is probably just 2 or 3 weeks older than the second - a very small difference that would not be noticeable a month later (they develop very fast at this early age).


Interesting about the Barn Swallows, I have read elsewhere of first brood young helping out with their siblings from second broods, but it is not common. A good observation!
 
Yes, both BH Gulls are juveniles from 2018; the first bird is probably just 2 or 3 weeks older than the second - a very small difference that would not be noticeable a month later (they develop very fast at this early age).


Interesting about the Barn Swallows, I have read elsewhere of first brood young helping out with their siblings from second broods, but it is not common. A good observation!

Thanks Nutcracker

I had a look at the link lou salomon provided, excellent. http://www.gull-research.org/hg/0start.html

All the cycles month by month with pictures. But I must admit, I was getting confused as they look alike in many pictures

Kind regard and happy birding
Aladdin
 
Early for moulting in to the winter plumage?

in your new pics you have an adult 'baltic gull' = larus fuscus fuscus (nominate lesser black-backed gull), second an adult common gull and in the last pic a yellow legged adult herring gull. it takes quite some time and a lot of tedious reading and occupation to really get into gulls, alladin, nevertheless it's a highly interesting subject. have a look into this website: http://gull-research.org/
as per age classes: juvenile (no replaced feathers right after fledging) - 1st winter - first summer - 2nd winter - 2nd summer etc.; but there are better ways of telling, like 1cy, 2cy...(cy = calendar year); or even more sophisticated: 1st cycle, 2nd cycle etc. - this system works with moult cycles.

Dear lou

If you don´t mind to have a look at this picture. End of July in northern Germany and it is a city bird outside the train station when I arrive to Kiel for my bike holiday.

After the excellent page you suggested and I have looked through some of my pictures. I have put down this as an adult in breeding plumage. But now I see the grey streaks on the head. Is this moulting in to the winter plumage? But it is only July!

And sorry for a stupid question, but for how long are they called juveniles?

Kind regards
Aladdin
 

Attachments

  • adult_winter.jpg
    adult_winter.jpg
    328.4 KB · Views: 11
Last edited:
hi aladdin,

the gull in your last post is a herring gull, but not an adult. look for instance at the black in tail. it is a 4cy type with 3rd generation primaries longest primary = p10 having a large mirror, so it is a 3rd generation primary, but the whole bird is in 4th cycle. a cyle starts with the replacement of the innermost primary (p1), usually in spring. now the dark markings on head are not streaking of basic plumage (basic = nonbreeding plumage) but is dirt or even the skin shining through on very worn old head feathers. still, the complete moult has already started in july and in many birds you can see a clear head moult at this time of year.
juveniles they are called just for the time in which all feathers are of the same 1st generation, which differs in time frame from species to species. in more southern taxons like yellow-legged gull, juvenile plumage is retained only 3-6 weeks (when the first scapulars begin to be replaced) while other taxons stay fresh juvenile well into winter (northern herring gulls, many LBBG types, white wingers as glaucoides, hyperboreus). after they have replaced some scapulars and in some taxons also some coverts you call them "first winters". easier it is to just call them 1st calendar year or 2nd calendar year (cy), so you avoid to define its plumage type.
 
Last edited:
hi aladdin,

the gull in your last post is a herring gull, but not an adult. look for instance at the black in tail. it is a 4cy type with 3rd generation primaries longest primary = p10 having a large mirror, so it is a 3rd generation primary, but the whole bird is in 4th cycle. a cyle starts with the replacement of the innermost primary (p1), usually in spring. now the dark markings on head are not streaking of basic plumage (basic = nonbreeding plumage) but is dirt or even the skin shining through on very worn old head feathers. still, the complete moult has already started in july and in many birds you can see a clear head moult at this time of year.
juveniles they are called just for the time in which all feathers are of the same 1st generation, which differs in time frame from species to species. in more southern taxons like yellow-legged gull, juvenile plumage is retained only 3-6 weeks (when the first scapulars begin to be replaced) while other taxons stay fresh juvenile well into winter (northern herring gulls, many LBBG types, white wingers as glaucoides, hyperboreus). after they have replaced some scapulars and in some taxons also some coverts you call them "first winters". easier it is to just call them 1st calendar year or 2nd calendar year (cy), so you avoid to define its plumage type.

Thank you very much!!

So if I see this bird next summer it might be busy feeding it´s young ones.

I cannot say that I got the hang of it, but I have learned a lot, and for sure, it will be much more fun when I go to see the gulls and I might learn about the gulls

Kind regards and thanks for the link
Aladdin
 
Warning! This thread is more than 5 years ago old.
It's likely that no further discussion is required, in which case we recommend starting a new thread. If however you feel your response is required you can still do so.

Users who are viewing this thread

Back
Top