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Here are photos of "Slaty-backed Gulls" reported in Washington during the winter of 1997-98.
The first bird, an apparent adult in basic plumage, was found by Steve Hampton at Gog-le-hi-te Wetlands, Tacoma, and photographed by Ruth Sullivan. It could be the same bird that was present at this spot 4 years ago, although it's impossible to say.
January 3, 1998
January 9, 1998
Why is this a Slaty-backed Gull?
- Very dark mantle.
- Rather slender bill, giving the head somewhat the look of a Thayer's Gull.
- Fine brown streaks on the head and neck, with a concentration of dark pigment in an almost-stripe just before and behind the eye. Compare with the Glaucous-winged Gull in one photo.
The second photo shows the characteristic pattern of a "string of pearls" in the outer primaries characteristic of Slaty-backed.
The second bird, considered in third-basic plumage because of bill color (actually more typical of a much younger bird), lack of white primary tips, and some black in the tail, was discovered by Steve Mlodinov at Everett earlier this winter and was photographed there, also by Ruth Sullivan. It has been called a Slaty-backed by some observers, but I consider it a Western Gull.
December 30, 1997