Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter


from the the May 17, 2009 Newsletter, issued from the Siskiyou Mountains west of Grants Pass, Oregon:

At Harris Beach State Park in Brookings four or five miles north of the California border, an information board told us that on rocks in the fog offshore there were interesting birds like Pigeon Guillemots and Peregrine Falcons but around us on the beach birdlife was about 99% seagulls, the remaining 1% being a crow or two. But which gull was it? Here we could look for Western and California Gulls, which aren't found in the East, but I'd forgotten how to distinguish those gulls from the more wide-ranging species, especially Herring and Ring-billed Gulls. When Anita began sharing her bread with the gulls I snapped some pictures, figuring I'd sort out the ID later. You can see Anita with her gulls below:


They turned out to be Herring Gulls, LARUS ARGENTATUS, a super-abundant species along both coasts, wintering on many rivers deep in the North American interior, and likely to be seen during migration nearly anyplace.

The main field marks distinguishing Herring Gulls from other possible gull species are: the mostly gray wings (all black for Western Gulls); our gulls' immatures have all-black beaks (bills of most other similar species' immatures are black only at their tips), and; our adults' legs are pinkish, not greenish yellow as in other species. Sometimes seawater leaves grayish grime on seagull legs so it's hard to see what color they are.