On Monday, 3/15, and then again on Thursday, 3/18, I found an unusual 1st cycle gull. The best place to find this bird is about 1/4 mile south of Frank Rendon Park at Daytona Beach Shores.

I sent out a series of photographs this week to a number of experts around the continent. All of them thought that it was possible that this is a Slaty-backed Gull, probably molting into a 1st summer plumage. I have sent photos to even more specialists, including some in Asia and hope to hear more feedback on this bird. If anyone would like to search a needle in a haystack for the bird, head to the gull concentrations at Daytona Beach Shores. It will be very interesting to see what other experts think about this bird. I think that the jury is still out, but it is possible that this is a Slaty-backed Gull.

It had a very bleached out white head and underparts, and also dark back feathers molting in. The legs were dark, hot pink. The primaries had a distinct "Venetian Blind" effect. (This is caused by pale inner webs and dark outer webs of the outer primaries. It is a feature commonly associated with 1st year Thayer's Gulls.) Also the under wing primaries are very pale. I thought that the in-coming feathers on the back are not dark enough for Slaty-backed, although they are darker than the surrounding Herring and Ring-billed Gulls. Feedback from some of the experts has said that this is not out of range for a 1st cycle Slaty-backed. The tone of these feathers was about the same as the Laughing Gulls.  It was about the same size as a medium-sized Herring Gull close by, smaller than a large Herring Gull near it.


Michael Brothers
Marine Science Center
Ponce Inlet, FL

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