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 Observation05/03/2019
  • Other Documentation of Observation
  • Other Documentation of Observation
  • Other Documentation of Observation
  • Other Documentation of Observation
  • Other Documentation of Observation
Number Observed2
Reporting Observer's NameSusan Elliott
Mailing Address62 Heather Ln
Rutland, Vermont 05701
United States
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EmailEmail hidden; Javascript is required.
Date Completed05/06/2019
Names & Emails of Other Contributing Observers


Latitude of Observation43.661127
Longitude of Observation-73.19343
Place NameCrystal Beach, Lake Bomoseen
Vermont eBird Checklist URLebird.org
Time of Day10:24 AM
Length of Time Observed10 minutes
Maximum Estimated Distance from Bird (in feet)75 yards
Minimum Estimated Distance from Bird (in feet)75 yards
Noteworthy Weather Conditions

very rainy! no wind

Optical Equipment Used for Observation

Vortex Viper 8x42; Kowa scope, 65 mm, 20-60

Observer’s Previous Acquaintance With This or Similar Species

none; fairly familiar with Great Black-backed Gull

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

small spit of land near the beach at the mouth of Sucker Brook, usually downed trees or large branches are nearby, water shallow; frequent spot for gulls in migration; also present that day: Herring Gull, Ring-billed Gull, Bonaparte's Gull, Osprey, Canada Goose, Bufflehead and several passerine species in the trees on shore

Behaviors Observed

commingling with the other gull species; the Lesser Black-backed Gulls did not fly, but some of the Ring-billed Gulls took off briefly and returned; the Lesser Black-backed Gulls stood in the water with some of the other gulls

Description of Vocalizations

none that I could separate from the Ring-billed Gulls and Herring Gulls

Verbal Narrative & Description of Observation

The day was extremely rainy. At first, I was just going to observe the gulls from the parking area, but seeing what I thought were two Great Black-backed Gulls, I took my scope out and walked down toward the beach area. I took several photos, but I did not determine the species to be Lesser Black-backed Gull at the time. The gulls seemed to be the same size as some immature gulls nearby and, at first, I thought they might be immature Great Black-backed Gulls as well (to account for the size similarity). As it was raining so hard I did not want to get my camera equipment wet so I did not linger. Later that day I put a couple of the photos on iNat and someone suggested it might be Lesser Black-backed Gulls (which would then account for the size similarity with what turned out to be immature Herring Gulls). Upon examining the photos more closely I could see the yellow legs which is consistent with Lesser Black-backed Gull.

Relative Size & Shape

As both adult and immature Herring and Ring-billed gulls were nearby, along with Bonaparte's Gulls, there was good size comparison. The two Lesser Black-backed Gulls were slightly smaller than the immature Herring Gulls.


head, face, throat and nape white; it was hard to see the eye, they appeared dark in the field, but upon zooming in on the photos, that may not be the case

Feet & Bill

feet in the water, but the legs were yellow; bill yellow with dark tip

Upper Back

slaty gray, but not as dark as a Great Black-backed Gull; one of the two Lesser Black-backed Gulls was very slightly darker than the other

Lower Back & Rump

not visible


black, folded against body

Breast, Belly, Flanks, Under Tail Coverts

white breast, belly and flanks; undertail coverts not visible


tip black, but not much else visible

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

Great Black-backed Gull eliminated due to size and clearly yellow legs on the Lesser Black-backed Gull; not quite a bulky as a Great Black-backed.

Other Notes & Comments

One adult; the second maybe three-year as it was not quite as dark.

Additionally, two immature gulls seen in one of the photos seem to have lighter heads than the immature Herring Gulls; I can't be sure of the ID of those (immature Lesser Black-backed Gulls?).

This report was written from notes taken:Written from Memory