[Tweeters] re. the Kent Iceland Gull

Eugene and Nancy Hunn enhunn323 at comcast.net
Wed Feb 1 18:08:27 PST 2006


I've been out of town for much of the debate about the Kent white-winged gull and would simply like to point out that when I first spotted it (two days after Charlie first reported it as a possible Iceland) I thought it must have been a different bird, since Charlie's original post was so tentative. It struck me immediately as an Iceland, distinctly small and short-billed in comparison with the Glaucous-winged and hybrid gulls in the flock. I saw no other gull species in that flock close enough for a direct comparison. 

The goyns was scarcely noticeable. The absolutely white primaries seemed to clearly indicate the Greenland breeding population glaucoides. Dennis suggests that kumlieni may have pure white primaries, but I've never heard such a claim before. The various fotos appear to show considerable variation in how rounded the crown appears, but the cleanest profiles to my eye show a short, slight bill with virtually no gonydeal angle. 

White it is true that the western Canadian Glaucous Gull race barrovianus is somewhat smaller on average (and slightly darker mantled) than nominate Glaucous (and said to sometime show a red orbital ring), it should be noted that the Glaucous Gulls we normally see in Washington are presumably of that race. In my experience they are always as big as Glaucous-winged Gulls and certainly larger than Herring.

It is also worth noting that the measurements for Iceland and Glaucous in Grant (I don't have the newest gull book) indicate that the longest winged and longest legged Icelands are equal to the shortest winged and shortest legged Glaucous, but that the bill length ranges do not even approach each other (39-45 mm for Iceland; 56-67 for Glaucous). [Presumably these measurements are for nominate Iceland and Glaucous.] In any case, I would argue that the bill of the bird in question is far too short and "dainty" for even the smallest Glaucous.

The fact that the bird appears to be an adult of the Greenland race of Iceland is hardly a strike against it being an Iceland. It simply rules out a Baffin Island origin. Apparently both races occur in the western north Atlantic in winter.

Guy's posting of photos of the ambiguous bird from Iceland strike me as distinctly heavier billed than the Kent bird.

Gene Hunn.
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