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Hybrids are barely touched upon in that tutorial, but here in the Pacific Northwest it is a major consideration. The most confounding hybrid we have is 'Cook Inlet' Gull (a Herring x Glaucous-winged Gull), which can look quite similar to both Thayer's and Herring Gulls. I would be interested in seeing the apparent Herring Gull with a pink orbital ring from the tutorial in full. Here's an example of a 'Cook Inlet' Gull that looks very much like a Herring Gull, but it has a pink orbital ring, the webs of the primaries are not truly black, the eyes are a little clouded, and the head has a certain smudgy appearance.

ImageCook Inlet Gull (Larus glaucescens x smithsonianus) by Jeremy Gatten, on Flickr

I don't mean to throw a wrench in the tutorial, but this is a reality of living in the Pacific Northwest. Learning gulls here is very hard, but also very rewarding. Often, you just have to throw up your hands and walk away because it is just a little too complex. I think learning how to document gulls is a good step in the right direction, and then getting some assistance with identification afterwards. Eventually you'll learn the classic individuals and the slightly atypical individuals... and then you just have to work extra hard to get comfortable with all the ages and hybrids. I personally enjoy it a lot!

Jeremy Gatten
Saanichton, BC
Excellent point Jeremy.

Gulls are never cookie cutter and hybrids are a whole other ball game. Hybrids are rampant here making ID much more tough. At the turf farm for example right now there is a Herring X Glaucous Gull that gave many people pause.

Thanks for sharing.

Randy, I highly recommend this book if you are interested in Gull identification.

There is no better tutorial than this one: ... -item.html

I have another example from the weekend that offers a nice comparison of a Thayer's Gull and a 'Cook Inlet' Gull (Herring x Glaucous-winged). For the longest time I tried to avoid dealing with 'Cook Inlet' Gulls initially, but they are quite common locally and if you like identifying what's around it is an inevitability. I am still working on identifying them at various stages in their development, but I am starting to get a decent feel for adults.


The lighting in the photo isn't great, but it gives you an idea of the structure compared to a Thayer's Gull. Whenever I get a chance to get out and photograph gulls, you can be sure that I'm looking for opportunities to illustrate some of these identification quandaries. I do this for my own personal understanding, but also in hopes of illustrating certain field marks to those that are hoping to learn their gulls.

Jeremy Gatten
Saanichton, BC
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