Dead Bird Quiz answers

8 11 2009

Thanks to Libby Rock, who emailed me with a guess on this most recent dead bird quiz. Aside from Libby, I would have felt I were simply flinging these posts into a black, black abyss of non-responsiveness. In any case, Libby was even right–she guessed that Bird A was  a Laughing Gull, and indeed, it is. Bird A is a lovely example of a LAGU in breeding plumage: black head with distinct white eye crescents. The bill on this specimen is mostly black, but many breeding Laughing Gulls will have some red on the bill as well. This guy (or girl, to be fair) is about the size of a Ring-billed Gull (culmen 31mm, wing chord 33cm, tarsus 55mm) but is distinguished by its dark red to black legs (RBGUs have yellow legs) and the dark bill (adult RBGUs having a yellow bill as well).



A great shot of an immature LAGU (front) and an adult RBGU. Photo copyright Jeff Poklen.

LAGUs have much more extensive black on the primary feathers as well, as compared with the conspicuous white mirrors of the primaries of RBGUs.

As for Birds B and C in yesterday’s quiz, they too are Laughing Gulls, though both are in serious disrepair. Both appear to be immatures, with Bird C in particular showing the mottled gray and brown on the mantle (or back) of the bird that is characteristic of young LAGUs. Both immature and non-breeding adults lack the black hood seen in Bird A. Young Laughing Gulls also have a broad black band on the tail that gradually diminishes with age (the black tail tip is visible on the young bird in the photo). Adult birds have an entirely white tail.

Finally, thanks also to Libby for appreciating the best part of the photo of Bird B: the Subway ruler next to the carcass reading “When You’re Hungry…” True Seanetters, Jim and Judy are. Nothing like a decomposing bird to whet the appetite.





One response

17 11 2009
Nancy McReel

I ID’d bird A also as LAGU,but the other 2 are too difficult!

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