Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 201

Common name:

Lesser Black-backed Gull

Scientific name: Larus fuscus
Date: 01-23-2012
Time: 15:51
Length of time observed: 10 minutes
Number: 1
Age: 4th winter
Location: Lee Kay Ponds
County: Salt Lake
Elevation: 4200 feet
Distance to bird: 75 yards
Optical equipment: 10X50 Bushnell binoculars, Cannon SX20 Digital Camera, Alpen 20X60 Spotting Scope,
Weather: Snowing
Light Conditions: very poor
Description:        Size of bird: medium sized gull
(Description:)       Basic Shape: gull like
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: very dark mantled,with a pale head and yellow legs
(Description:)            Bill Type:  Long and slender
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
What caught my eye was the very dark charcoal gray back,much darker than the Califorina and Ring-billed Gulls nearby. When I got the scope on it,it had a pale eye and dark markings on the tip of the bill,both upper and lower mandibles,indicating a 4th winter bird. It had yellow legs and was slightly larger than the California Gulls
(see photos)
Song or call & method of delivery: none heard
Behavior: resting on the ice in a snow storm,not moving around much,but head up and looking around
Habitat: On the ice.near some open water,on a partially frozen over fresh water pond,near a landfill
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Too small to be a Western or Yellow-footed Gull, the only other dark mantled gulls on the utah checklist. Also to small to be a Great Black-backed Gull or a Slate-backed Gull, both of which also have pink legs. Also had very long wings, which is consistent with a LBBG Much darker backed than all other gulls.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
Yes, I have seen them at Farmington bay last month, and again in February of last year, and in February of 2009.
References consulted: Sibley Guide to Western Birds D.A. Sibley 2000, Peterson Reference Guides: Gulls of the Americas J.Dun/S.N.G. Howell 2007
Description from: From memory
Observer: Bryant Olsen
Observer's address: 688 East 700 South SLC,UT 84102
Observer's e-mail address:
Other observers who independently identified this bird: none,although one was report 2 days before from multiple observers on a Great Salt Lake Audubon field trip at the same location.
Date prepared: 01-26-2012
Additional material: Photos
Additional_Comments: I will send a photo to the webmaster, but also see for a discussion of the age of the bird.Thanks for the help Ryan.