There are a number of reasons why I decided to take on this project. My first reason has to do with my interest in birds. This began shortly after moving to Victoria ten and a half years ago. With our house backing onto a wooded area, the chirping of birds is a familiar sound all year long. I often glance out the window to see birds of all forms in the yard throughout the day. Frequently I will pull out the Birds of Victoria or Birds of North America reference guides we have on hand. Unfortunately, the drawings in the first aren’t overly helpful for identification and the number of entries in the second is overwhelming. My second reason has to do with a photography course I took a number of years ago. Since that time I have been trying to think of a practical reason to buy a new camera. Taking pictures of birds requires a powerful zoom lens which my previous point-and-shoot camera could not accommodate. Perfect! My final reason was my desire to take on a new project to welcome in 2011. Hence, bird of the day was born.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Glaucous-winged Gull

Larus glaucescens

Large gull
White head and underparts
Light gray back
Gray wing-tips with white spots near tips
Thick, yellow bill with red spot near tip
Dark eyes with pink eye-ring
Pink legs

Listen to its call.

Flocks of gulls are a common sight, so common in fact that we frequently ignore them altogether. However, if you do take the time to study them, you will notice that although most of the ones around Victoria look very similar to this one, there are a number distinguishing features. These include their size, the colour of their legs, the colour and size of their bills and the colour of their wing-tips and backs. One of the main problems with identifying these gulls is the large number of hybrids around, crosses between Glaucous-winged Gulls and Western Gulls or Herring Gulls. I believe this bird is a pure Glaucous-winged Gull as its wingtips and back are a close match in colour. Hybrids usually have darker wingtips, which makes it difficult to differentiate them from Thayer's Gulls. It seems odd to have the different species of gulls cross-breeding. Perhaps they have as much trouble telling each other apart as we do!

Learn more about the Glaucous-winged Gull.

Additional pictures:

Nest with two baby gulls

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