Parker - weird gull


On 11/15/09 in a flooded field south of Parker, AZ this completely white gull flew into a field full of over 100 other gulls. The conclusion I came to was that this bird is either an albino or leucistic (lacking any pigment including melanin) Ring-billed Gull. Below are 5 pictures of various poses that help support the description that follows:

EYES: Although the exact color of the eyes wasn't seen, the fact they were pale was noted...the pupil was clearly visible at a distance. It could have either been yellow or pink?

LEGS: colored pink

BILL: a similar pink to the legs with a pale tip and black sub-terminal band near the end.

BEHAVIOR: acted exactly like the other Ring-billed Gulls in close proximity.

PLUMAGE: after a while under certain light some darker (only a slight shade) smudges were noted on the ends of the retrices (tail feathers). Also, under certain light, the mantle appeared a SLIGHT shade darker.

1) side by side with a 'normal' plumaged Ring-billed Gull
2)in flight, although a crappy picture, shows completely white plumage.
3) different angle showing black tip (you'll have to take my word for the pale tip)
4) back shot - no color!
5) another side-by-side with Ring-billed Gull

Your comments are welcome. This was a great bird to see and a fun study in using other clues aside from plumage coloration to aid in identification.



Jake Mohlmann
Senior Guide
Tucson, AZ

1 comment:

Philip Kline said...

Hi Jake:

It's probably too small, but from the photos its plumage seems consistent with a 1st or maybe 2nd year Iceland Gull! It does seem a bit bulkier and slightly larger than the Ring-billed, but probably not enough. Your albino Ring-billed guess is probably the safest bet. Maybe you could email a photo to Alvaro Jaramillo or Paul Lehman?

Philip Kline