This European species is becoming increasingly common in North America in winter. In all plumages, note the rounded head, slender bill, and very long wings extending well beyond the tail. Alternate Adult: The mantle is slate gray, usually lighter than Great Black-backed Gull, though some birds from Western Europe may be as dark. Outer primaries are black, with white mirrors on the outermost one or two primaries. In flight, the underside of the flight feathers are gray, while the underwing coverts are white, creating a two-toned effect. The eye is yellow with a red orbital ring. The slender yellow bill has a red-orange gonydeal spot. The legs are yellow. Basic Adult: Shows dusky streaks on head and back of neck. Streaks are often concentrated around eyes. Bill is duller yellow, with indistinct dark marks. First Cycle: Dark gray-brown overall, with fine pale mottling and blackish primaries. The head and breast show a lot of white, contrasting with the dark upperparts. In flight, the rump and tail are whitish with fine dark barring and a broad dark band on the end of the tail. Legs are dull pinkish. The bill is dark, with some dull pinkish sometimes appearing on the base later in the winter. Second Cycle: Head and breast are whiter than first cycle birds. Slate gray appears on mantle. In flight, the underside of the wings is mostly dark. The bill is mostly dark, with pale at the base and a small pale tip. Legs are dull pink with a yellow cast. Third Cycle: Mostly adult-like plumage, with some brownish on the wing coverts, and limited black on the tail. The bill varies between mostly dark to yellow with a dark band. Black primaries lack the white mirrors seen on adults.
Length: 50 (cm) Wingspan: 137 (cm)
Calls are fairly deep and gutteral.
Usually seen with other gulls on beaches, dumps, harbors, and offshore waters.
Often returns to the same wintering site for many years.
Scavenges. Also feeds on marine invertebrates.
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