American Herring Gull (Larus smithsonianus)

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American Herring Gull (Larus smithsonianus)

Post  Admin on Thu Feb 11, 2010 11:15 am

The American Herring Gull, Larus smithsonianus, is a large gull which breeds in North America. It is often treated as a subspecies of the European Herring Gull (L. argentatus) but is now regarded as a separate species by some authorities.

Adults are white with grey back and wings, black wingtips with white spots, and pink legs. Immature birds are grey-brown and are darker and more uniform than European Herring Gulls with a dark tail.

It was first described as a new species in 1862 by Elliott Coues based on a series of specimens from the Smithsonian Institute. It was later reclassified as a subspecies of the Herring Gull (Larus argentatus). The taxonomy of the Herring Gull group is very complicated and much is still controversial and uncertain. A 2002 study suggested that the American Herring Gull is not closely related to European Herring Gulls, belonging instead to a separate clade of gulls. Several authorities such as the Association of European Rarities Committees and British Ornithologists' Union now recognize it as a separate species. The BOU also includes the East Siberian Gull (Larus vegae) of north-east Asia within the American Herring Gull. The American Ornithologists' Union has not adopted the split and continues to treat the American Herring Gull as a subspecies of Larus argentatus.

Adult European Herring Gulls are very similar to American Herring Gulls but those of the subspecies L. a. argenteus are smaller than many American birds while those of the northern subspecies L. a. argentatus are typically darker gray above. European birds lack the long gray tongues on the 6th, 7th and 8th primaries and solid black markings on the 5th and 6th primaries that are shown by American Herring Gulls. First-winter European birds have more checkered upperparts, more streaked underparts, and a paler rump and base to the tail.

This bird was photographed in Galway, Ireland, earlier in 2008:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/ronanmclaughlin/3051194604/
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smithsonianus in Madrid Feb. 2010

Post  JanJ on Sun Feb 14, 2010 12:32 am

http://cid-fd6e910e72a9a144.skydrive.live.com/browse.aspx/Aves/Herring%20Gull%20%5E5Larus%20smithsonianus%5E6

Some other smithsonianus:

http://www.pbase.com/gwwarbler/herg

http://www.htc.net/~kdan/report.htm

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