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Possible Thayer's Gull - Owen Sound, Ontario (1 Viewer)


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I saw an unusual-looking gull on the ice with the Herring Gulls in Owen Sound, Ontario on Dec 17, 2016. It was about the same size as they were, and the back colour was about the same shade of gray, but the head on this gull was heavily streaked with black almost forming a hood.

I took some pictures, but I'm not confident about gull identification, and really had no idea what kind of gull it might be at the time. Some research led me to believe it could be a winter-plumaged Thayer's Gull.

Does anyone know what kind of gull this is?


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Well as no one else is playing ...... first the disclaimer though, no experience of Thayer's in adult winter and little in total, so this is based on literature and Google/online images.

I know of no other large 'white' gull with dark primaries prone to this extensive a head/neck streaking, the bill looks too small (and the mantle too light) for Western, and I can see no other features to rule out Thayer's, so I'd say yes. Sadly the primary pattern and legs are not visible.
I can find online photos with dark streaking this extensive, but not this dark - a striking bird indeed. Not surprised you picked it out at range!

Either that or it's an AHG that has been feeding inside a bag of soot!


american herring. eye looks pale, bill is strong, size is same as in the others around and such a hodded appearance is not more likely in thayer's than it is in american herring.
Ah, no substitute for experience - thanks Lou. Never knew AHG could have such a hood, certainly never saw any even close when we lived in the NE US.

I did think the bill a bit daintier (is this a word?) than the other bird with bill visible (LH in photo 1) though.

Thank you for the comments. I've also never seen a Herring Gull with that much dark streaking on the head, which is why I thought it might be a different species. Anyone else agree or disagree that it's a Herring Gull?
Well, the third picture is a challenge, but if the legs are really that colour, then I would question Herring - with it's pale pink legs. Thayer has stronger leg colouring. That being said, they are not that common.
I don't think you can necessarily eliminate Thayer's here, but there no reason to think it isn't a Herring Gull which is far more likely. I've seen ones with hoods like this although it's by no means common.
I agree with Herring Gull with unusually dense streaking - nothing in mantle color, primary pattern, or overall shape (from what can be seen) suggests Thayer's to me.
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