Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2014-042

Common name:

Kumlien/s Iceland Gull

Scientific name: Larus glaucoides (kumlieni)
Date: 12-24-2014
Time: 12:30pm
Length of time observed: 30 minutes
Number: 1
Age: 1st cycle
Sex: Male presumably?
Location: Lee Kay Ponds
County: Salt Lake
Elevation: 4250
Distance to bird: 150-50m
Optical equipment: Nikon 10x50 Binoculars,Vortex 20-60x Spotting Scope
Weather: Overcast,windy,45F
Light Conditions: Ideal. Gulling can be difficult in bright harsh light, the overcast conditions made judment of plumage more accurate
Description:        Size of bird: 20in
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Gull like
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: uniform pale gray, some white checkering on mantle
(Description:)            Bill Type: Gull like
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
What I first noticed was a very pale gray gull, similar in size to California Gulls, loafing on the edge of the ice, with very pale primaries. In the scope the primaries were very pale whitish, with dark arrow markings along the shafts. The primaries are actually the palest part of this gull,paler than the tertials and mantle. The tertials had extensive checkering,although the bases were more solid, but still rather pale.The mantle and coverts were generally whitish, with fine pale gray checkering. In flight the tail was mostly solid, but rather pale,appearing faintly double banded and the secondaries were the same shade as the coverts. In-fact the whole of the gull had the same uniform palish gray shade in flight, without contrasting dark primaries,secondaries or tail, and the dark markings in the primaries are restricted to the shafts. I used the Hampton's Scale to score the bird, and got a 19, but that higher score was mostly because of the bill and head!
shape,which can be explained easily by the bird being a male, and the fact a male would score higher than a female,which has nothing to do with what species it is, erodes my confidence in that scale. By comparing photos of this gull with photos in the Howell and Dunn book, the plumage seems a perfect match for typical "Kumlien's" Iceland Gull, and much to pale for any Thayer's. Even an "inter-grade/hybrid should have darker primaries and or tertials than this gull,based on the photos of presumed inter-grades in that book, if my interpretation is correct.
(see photos)
Song or call & method of delivery: none heard to come directly from this gull, but the chorus of 10,000+ gulls makes putting calls to individuals very challenging here
Behavior: Mostly loafing on edge of ice, but at one point became very active feeding by repeatably hovering and diving into water.
Habitat: Freshwater pond near a landfill and not far from the Great Salt Lake. Many thousands of gull come here to feed and rest daily from the lake.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Thayer's Gull can be quite similar,indeed the exact difference between the 2 is in much debate, but generally they have darker primaries and more solid and darker tertials, plus a contrasting dark secondary bar, and darker tail. Glaucous and Glaucous-winged Gulls are larger.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
I've now seen 4 Iceland Gulls,all 1st cycles. 1st in 2009 at Farmington bay, another last year at this location
References consulted: 'Gulls of the America's' Howell/Dunn 2007, many online articles and photos as well
Description from: From photo(s) taken at the time of the sighting
Observer: Bryant Olsen
Observer's address: 688 East 700 South #105, SLC, UT 84102
Observer's e-mail address: **
Other observers who independently identified this bird: Matt Pendleton saw it 2 days later, possibly others as well
Date prepared: 12-27-14
Additional material: Photos