It CAN'T be a Lesser Black-backed Gull - or can it?

You probably don't remember the big excitement last summer when I had a confirmed sighting of a Lesser Black-backed Gull.  It was a thrilling experience because these are rare visitors from Europe that are occasionally blown clear across the Atlantic to end up in Massachusetts.  They closely resemble our local Great Black-backed Gull (a species I am particularly fond of ever since I saw one catch and eat a shark!) The Lesser Black-backed Gull is smaller and has yellow legs and feet; a very noticeable difference from the GBBG's pink legs and feet.  But what have we here?  Is it another Lesser Black-backed Gull?

It can't be a Lesser Black-backed Gull.  It is impossible, despite the fact that the other two big black and white gulls have pinkish feet and legs and the one on the right does not.  I couldn't find a single sighting of a Lesser Black-backed Gull in Plymouth (or maybe anywhere in Massachusetts) in the month of May!

Great Black-backed Gulls have pinkish legs and feet like the ones above. The one with yellowish looking legs might have gotten his pink legs all sandy.  It is one possible explanation. 

But check this out!  Black back.  Very yellow legs!  Maybe it really is a Lesser Black-backed Gull!  It must be!  Unless, of course, it is a hybrid of some sort.  But that would be REALLY weird!

UPDATE:  It is NOT a Lesser Black-backed Gull, unfortunately.  Maybe next time!!


  1. Susan, really confusing! From the illustrations in Gulls of the Americas the Lesser BBG is not quite as black as the GGBG. You might want to post your images on the ID forum of birdforum.net. There are quite a few gull experts who visit this forum regularly.

  2. Thank you, Hilke. I'll check them out.


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