August 2019

Vol. 47, No. 4

Great Black-backed Gull 2AK Grows Up

Dave Adrien

A Photographic Journal

Fig. 1. (left) The start of a gull's life. Fig. 2. (right) June 12, 2019—2AK returns as an adult.All photographs by the author.

"Almost anyone can recognize a gull as such." (Howell and Dunn 2007)

To nonbirders, a gull is usually just a "sea gull." For birders, identifying gulls is more nuanced and more challenging. First, there many species to learn to identify, and then there is the task of learning each species' plumages at ages from juvenile to adult. Every field guide depicts gulls at various ages, but they all have one caveat—variability. Descriptions frequently include words and phrases such as "typically," "exceptions," "approximate," "varying degrees," and "possible hybrids." And that is without factoring in a variety of environmental conditions and just plain wear and tear between molts.

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