California X Herring Gull Hybrid?

Randy Horvath snorovich at
Sat Mar 13 18:05:03 EST 2004

Here's one I need help with from the experts. At about 11:45 a.m. today at 
Wheatley Harbour, I found a gull perched on a piling in the marina that 
immediately had me thinking "California." It had a black spot on the bill in 
addition to the red spot, a more rounded-looking head, and greenish-yellow 
legs. My brother Robert was with me, and we took turns studying it in his 
scope.It was a bright, sunny morning, so it was difficult to accurately 
judge whether the gray of the mantle was dark enough for a California, and 
the bird was squinting a lot, making it hard to be certain of its iris 
colour. My brother felt that the eye was dark, given a few good looks he 
had; I can't be sure based on my views of the bird. It was clearly bigger 
than the Ring-billeds it was associating with, but it was also hard to say 
whether its size was that of a California or a Herring. But here is the 
stumbling block: although the bird's legs were clearly a strong 
yellow-green, its "feet" were pink. So, was this bird an aberrant-plumaged 
Herring, or could it have been a hybrid California-Herring? I don't know 
whether these two species hybridize or not.
We watched the bird for about 20 minutes from about 70 metres away. Before 
we were able to get to the other side of the marina, where we could have 
walked right up to it, the bird flew off with its companions and we were 
unable to relocate it. (Hopefully someone else will.)

At Point Pelee, we had an immature Red-shouldered Hawk soaring over 
DeLaurier, and a half-dozen Northern Shovelers in the marsh. I was surprised 
that we only had 7 Killdeer all day, and no Turkey Vultures -- my brother 
had 2 TVs in nearby Kingsville this past Tuesday.

I look forward to reading comments on my mystery gull.

Wheatley Harbour is located at the end of Kent Road 1 which runs north-south 
through the town of Wheatley.

Randy Horvath, Windsor           <snorovich at>

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