A Hybrid Lesser Black-backed Gull X Herring Gull

Provincetown, Massachusetts - 13 December 2009

Blair Nikula

The second-cycle gull depicted below was photographed at Herring Cove Beach in Provincetown (Barnstable County), Massachusetts on 13 December 2009. The green color band with the alphanumeric "F02" identifies it as one of two chicks raised by an interspecific pairing of an adult male Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus) and a female Herring Gull (Larus argentatus) on Appledore Island off New Hampshire during the summer of 2008, and banded by Julie Ellis and others. For details of this breeding see here.

Although suspected LBBG x HEGU hybrids are seen annually in the northeastern U.S., never before (to my knowledge) has it been possible to confirm the identity (or in some cases even the age) of these birds. The Provincetown bird appeared (to my eye) intermediate in almost all aspects of size, structure, and plumage, and I felt reasonably confident from the outset that it was a hybrid. Nonetheless, I was delighted to have my suspicions confirmed!

All images were taken with a Canon 40D and a 100-400 IS lens.