Date: 10/30/17 8:56 am From: Alan Contreras <acontrer56...> Subject: [obol] gull chart etc.
We are often tempted to use charts or matrices to sort out hard i.d. issues. Making yourself one as a study guide is fine, but for things like the larger gulls or, say, empidonax, you just have to spend a chunk of time looking at them. The charts and even the field guides are of limited utility until you have enough experience of the sheer variability of some birds.
For example, whatever the guides may say, California Gulls come in different sizes, mantle colors and leg colors—and that’s just the adults in one flock. So you learn to look at things like bill and head shape. Until you face the true horror of gulls in the field all the charts in the world won’t prepare you.
And then of course gulls hybridize. Fortunately Californias seem less inclined to do this, perhaps related to their interior low-latitude breeding areas.
I hope that our local bird clubs do “Joy of Gulls” field trips every year in, say, November or early December. A nice prep for CBCs.