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Very strange gull in Italy! (1 Viewer)


Well-known member
i'm posting the photos that a friend (Arno Schneider) took in north east of Italy (about 50 km south of Venice) the 4th of October.


This gull seems very strange and is not compatible (in my opinion) to any one from the western paleartic.

Could it be a rare vagrant or maybe an hybrid?

Thank you, bye
Marco Crivellari

Iraq Babbler

Well-known member
The size and jizz is identical to BhGs near by but could be a stained and recocvered bird espacially im seeing a hint of dirt on its clouca area but may be it is just an artifact.



Well-known member
I'm enlarging these images to 400%, and in the best profile image, I believe that there may be a pale iris? If that is the case, Black-billed Gull from New Zealand might be an unlikely contender?



Well-known member
Hi, thanks at all.
I don't think it's black headed gull because it's also larger.

The black billed gull is quite similar but i don't think the iris is white.
And i can't find a photo with the dark ear spot....

Bye Marco.
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Well-known member
Well my observations as follows:

Head shape and the profile of the beak to head shape (the gape I suppose), and overall posture are very reminiscent of Slender-billed gull to me, and there are several photos of such gulls with black bills and dark legs and a dark(er) spot behind the eye …. although not all together, and none with a spot so defined.

My best guess at this stage is a Slender-billed x Black-headed hybrid. I have googled for such a hybrid and the few photos I've found are not like this individual, however!

From my recollection of Black-billed in NZ the shape/jizz is all wrong and never saw an adult one with any black spot behind the eye. I'm sure a local NZ birder will correct this if I'm wrong! (when they all wake up!)

I await more experienced input with interest.

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The fool that MrT doesn't pity
From Heather and Robertson, Field Guide to Birds of New Zealand: Black-billed gull (larus bulleri) "37cm. Very pale gull of inland South I and coasts. Like Red-billed gull but longer thinner bill and very pale wingtips. Adult has back and wings pale silvery grey, wingtips only thinly bordered black. Long thin black bill; legs and feet black or reddish black; eye white. Juvenile quickly loses small grey patch behind eye; has more extensive black on wingtips; bill pale flesh with dark tip; legs from pinkish to reddish black; eye brown."

I can't match this description to the gull in the photo.


Luciano Ruggieri
I can't match this description to the gull in the photo.

Yes, I agree.
Black-billed Gull never shows the black ear spot, which in our mystery gull is reminiscent of a BHG.

The bird is even larger than the nearby BHGs, and it is unlikely (IMO) the odd legs and bill coloration comes from some atypical stained artifact.

Any other idea?


Well-known member
As I said above it certainly looks like Slender-billed size/shape/jizz to me - aberrant features or hybrid I cannot say.

Also I understand there is/was a Slender-billed colony near Venice, so it would fit with the location if it still exists.



Well-known member
Yes, if we accept the idea of an hybrid i think the bill and the size could come from a slender billed gull.
The general jizz is different because the neck is short in my opinion for a SBG.
This could be the result of an hybridation with BHG.

Yes of course the SBG is present, it breeds in the near Delta Po Park.


San Diego CA
United Kingdom
Red legs, shorter bill, and slightly smaller size and you have a BHG...No expert but BHG x Slender-billed sounds like a good option.

lou salomon

the birdonist
copy and paste what i wrote on FB (https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?...t=pcb.580944125371521&type=1&relevant_count=4) some days ago about this bird:

"i think a hybrid atricilla x ridibundus would have a slightly darker mantle and a different billshape, stronger bill also. i would therefore guess it is rather a weird BHG or maybe SBG with all dark bareparts. what worries me for any of the latter is the apparent longish mirror in wingtip. while the only chroicocephalus with all black bill (black-billed gull, chr. bulleri, from NZ) has a smaller mirror (and a pale eye and no dark ear spot), this kind of pattern seems to suggests involvement of another sp. but which? neither saunder's nor relict really come close.. an extreme common x black-headed hybrid with dark bareparts? somehow i'd prefer an odd genei or ridibundus...."


Well-known member
I can see why some involvement with SBGull might be suspected based on the superficial impression created by all dark bare parts, but structurally, surely this bird is far from being similar to any SBG?

From my very limited research there is only one documented record of BHG x SBG, so statistically this only a very remote possibility (and I must stress, very remote)

In all other respects (overall shape/structure/primary pattern/mantle tone) this is just like a normal BHG with dark bare parts. I would concede that it's bill looks a little slender on average, but compare it to the other bird standing next to it in pic 3 and it looks almost identical (allowing for the obvious fore-shortening in the other bird's profile).

Try as I might I cannot see a pale iris-just a catchlight as would be expected!

Lastly, while it never hurts to 'think outside the box' when faced with an odd gull, I think it's always wise to also keep one's feet on the ground and not overlook the possibility that it is just that: an odd Black-headed Gull!

I believe that's what Nutcracker suggested almost from the outset.
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