Medium-sized, three-year gull with long bill and legs. Adult: Distinctive pale-gray hood. Pale eye. Red bill. White neck, underparts and tail. Pale gray back and wings. Black wingtips with small white mirrors. Red legs. In flight, upper wing has distinctive white wedge on leading edge to outer wing. Upper and underwing have extensive black wing tip with white mirror bar on outer two primaries. Gray underwing blending with black wingtip. Winter adult lacks hood and has smudgy, dusky ear spot with dusky smudging on head and neck. Second cycle: Alternate is similar to adult, but has dark eyes and paler bill with dark tip. Second cycle Basic has dusky smudging on head and hind neck with dark ear spot. First cycle: Dark tip to bill. Dusky smudging on head with darker ear spot. Dark smudging on lower hind neck. Dark secondaries, sometimes with white tips. In flight, very extensive black tip to upper and underwing lacking mirror band. Juvenile: Dusky-brown smudging on head and neck darkest on head and lower hind-neck. Mostly brown back and wings with pale fringes to feathers creating scaly look. Dark wingtips. Whitish underparts.
Length: 41 (cm) Wingspan: 109 (cm)
Freshwater or saltwater wetlands, lagoons, estuaries, beaches, lakes, rivers, docks, harbors and dumps.
Breeds in colonies. Outside of nesting season, may form large gregarious flocks. Forages by tipping forward and dunking head or picking prey off surface.
Diet consists of invertebrates and a variety of foods at dumps.
An adult at Coney Island, New York 24 July till at least 3 August 2011 will furnish the second record for the U.S. pending acceptance by NYSARC. In the field, this species is readily separated from the similar Laughing Gull by its overall paler coloration, its ghostly pale eye, pale gray hood with a darker distal edge, bright red bill and mouth lining, and bright red legs. In flight, a white crescent preceeds the black wing-tip and there are white mirrors in the outer primaries. This white crescent and the gray wing linings are astoundingly visible when the bird is in flight.
Citation: Personal Experience. I observe this regularly, highly confident.
Expanded Life History
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|Mark S. Szantyr added a note to Gray-hooded Gull Notes||8/03/2011 at 11:10PM|