Utah Winter Gulls

by Dennis Shirley

General Information  |  Gull Identification  |  Immature Gulls  |  Key to Adult Gulls  |  Species List  |

     Black-legged Kittiwake
  (similar species)

Non-breeding Adult - gray suffusion across the back of the head and nape,
head and neck are white in breeding plumage, almost no white spots in wing tips (in any plumage)
Paul Higgins   ©Paul Higgins

Non-breeding Adult - has an indistinct, lighter gray upperwing area
immediately inside the black wing tip, white tips on the secondaries,
tail is white, squared or slightly notched
by Steve Summers   ©Steve Summers

Non-breeding Adult - white underwing with black tips cut straight across wing
by Steve Summers   ©Steve Summers

2nd Year Black-legged Kittiwake - loses  the distinct black "M" pattern on the front upperwing,
and the white triangular area on the trailing edge found in the 1st year bird.

   Photo by Paul Higgins   ©Paul Higgins

Black-legged Kittiwake

Similar Species
   Adult Mew Gull  - Adult Mew Gull similar in size and mantle shade, but black on wing tip more extensive, irregularly shaped and with white spots; summer kittiwakes with unmarked head may appear similar to Mew Gulls when on the water.
   Immature Sabine's Gull -  is more cleanly marked and has a lot of brown color on the back and upperwing coverts.
   Red-legged Kittiwake (not found in Utah) - is smaller, more compact, with tounder head, shorter bill, darker mantle; lack on wing tips more extensive and less sharply defined; dark wing liniings have window; feet and legs gright vermilion.
   Bonaparte's Gull  - is much smaller and petit with a proportionally smaller head and bill;  bill is black or almost black.


Adult Mew Gull  - black on wing tips is more extensive,
irregularly shaped, and has white spots

Photo by Jack Binch   ©Jack Binch

Juvenile Sabine's - has brown mantle, back of head and sides of neck,
although the black in the primaries is similar to the Kittiwake
it stops at the secondary coverts which are brown in the Sabine's.

by Paul Higgins    ©Paul Higgins

Black-legged Kittiwake (center) - is much larger then Bonaparte's with a proportionally
larger head and bill; bill is distinctly curved at the end and is yellow after the first year.

by Jack Binch   ©Jack Binch

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