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