California Gull at Wheatley Harbour near Point Pelee

6 May 2010

California Gull at Wheatley Harbour on Lake Erie near Point Pelee on 6 May 2010. Aged as probable third alternate by its mostly adult plumage, bright yellow bill with usual red spot but more black than on an adult. Note yellow legs and moderately dark eye. The Birds of Canada (Godfrey 1986) says iris colour is "usually brown, sometimes grey or even straw".


Head shows indistinct dark specks on nape and the old worn wing coverts indicating immaturity.


Wing coverts were mottled with brown and in flight it had no dark on the tail. This bird will undergo a complete molt over this summer into fall acquiring its first adult basic (winter) plumage. Next spring it will undergo a partial molt and acquire its first adult alternate (breeding) plumage when about 4 years of age. Adult plumages are repeated yearly for the life of the bird.