• WildlifeWildlife WatchingVermont Bird Records CommitteeLesser Black-backed Gull

    Vermont Rare Bird Reports 2019

    Common NameLesser Black-backed Gull
    Scientific NameLarus fuscus
    Type of ReportRare Species
    Date of Observation04/08/2019
    MediaOther Documentation of Observation
    Number Observed1
    Reporting Observer's NameKyle Jones
    Mailing Address230 South Windsor St
    South Royalton, VT 05068
    United States
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    EmailEmail hidden; Javascript is required.
    Date Completed04/08/2019
    Names & Emails of Other Contributing Observers

    Spencer Hardy,
    Sarah Carline,
    Chris Rimmer,

    Latitude of Observation0
    Longitude of Observation0
    Place NameWilder Boat Launch
    Vermont eBird Checklist URLebird.org
    Time of Day05:50 PM
    Length of Time Observed1 hour ish
    Maximum Estimated Distance from Bird (in feet)1,500
    Minimum Estimated Distance from Bird (in feet)200
    Noteworthy Weather Conditions

    Bad. The day had already been declared "epic" by several observers for the fallout at the Wilder dam area. Cold, wet, sleet. Good day for birding, bad day to be a bird.

    Optical Equipment Used for Observation

    4 observers with fancy binoculars, including 3 with spotting scopes. A couple of cameras as well.

    Observer’s Previous Acquaintance With This or Similar Species

    Several of us have had experience with LBBG in other areas. Often with multiple birds representing multiple ages (Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, etc).

    I certify that that attachments included with this report were captured during this observation event​​.
    Description of Habitat

    Sitting on ice in the Wilder reservoir.

    Behaviors Observed

    Mostly just standing, after the entire flock of gulls descended into the area. A larger group of birders had been birding the area prior to the gulls coming in, some bemoaning the lack of larids.

    Description of Vocalizations

    None noted.

    Verbal Narrative & Description of Observation

    A flock of nearly a hundred gulls descended en masse onto the floating ice in the reservoir. This is a LOT of gulls for eastern Vermont. I was scoping them out and texted other birders about the event. Sarah Carline had not yet left the area and Chris Rimmer and Spencer Hardy joined us. Kent McFarland was already at home eating tacos and stayed there. I quickly noticed one bird in particular was darker mantled and slightly smaller and more delicate than a Herring Gull and suspected adult Lesser Black-backed Gull. Sarah and I tried fairly unsuccessfully to get photos because the LBBG stayed behind other gulls much of the time. After Chris and Spencer joined us the bird was much more cooperative, particularly when the ice, birds, and birdwatchers moved to the southern end of the reservoir. The birds were quite close to us for much of the time. On one occassion many of the birds, including the LBBG, took off, circled the area, and most returned, including the LBBG. Eventually more birds, including the LBBG, rose up and left the area headed north.

    Relative Size & Shape

    Good comparisons with Herring Gulls and Ring-billed Gulls. Much larger the RBGU, slightly smaller than HERG. See additional photos in checklist referenced above.


    Head feathering all-white. No dusky immature or winter feathers. Iris yellow with red orbital ring.

    Feet & Bill

    Bill yellow with red gonial angle and small dark spot. Legs were dull yellow, although at some light angles somewhat yellow-pink.

    Upper Back

    Medium gray. Much darker than the RBGUs and HERGs it was standing close to.

    Lower Back & Rump

    Not well observed.


    Gull-like. I did not really have a chance to see the dark secondaries from underneath.

    Breast, Belly, Flanks, Under Tail Coverts

    White, white, white, white.



    IMPORTANT: What similar species were eliminated when making the identification and how was this bird different?

    Distinguished from HERG primarily by darker mantle, leg color. No overlap to suggest a hybrid HERG/GBBG. Slaty-backed was considered in the field, but eliminated due to leg color (not pink). Western Gulls are larger and uglier, also with pink legs.

    Other Notes & Comments

    Adult based on clean plumage. Sex not determined.

    This report was written from notes taken:Written from Memory