Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2013-07

Common name:

Lesser Black-backed Gull

Scientific name: Larus fuscus
Date: 1-7-13
Time: 1:00 pm
Length of time observed: 20 minutes
Number: 1
Age: adult
Sex: unknown
Location: Lake Park,West Valley City
County: Salt Lake
Elevation: 4,250ft
Distance to bird: 50 yards
Optical equipment: 10X50 Bushnell binoculars, Cannon SX20 Digital Camera
Weather: sunny, clear but cold
Light Conditions: excellent
Description:        Size of bird: medium sized gull, similar in size to the California Gulls nearby
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Gull like
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: very dark charcoal gray back, pale head and white breast
(Description:)            Bill Type: Long, yellow with a red spot
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
This gull stood out dramatically from the California, Ring-billed and Herring gulls nearby, with its much darker back. Also had a yellow eye, and a yellow bill with a red spot. Some smudgy markings on the crown.
(see photos)
Song or call & method of delivery: none heard
Behavior: swimming and preening in a large pond
Habitat: On a large unfrozen pond on the side of the road in a golf course-business complex area. They must circulate the water to keep it from freezing over at night, and thousands of gulls were there apparently preening and feeding in the water. This pond is only a few miles from a large landfill and the south shore of the great salt lake, where the gulls feed and roost at night.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
To dark to be anything except a Dark-mantled Gull, to small to be a Western, Yellow-footed or Great Black-backed Gull. Also the pale eye is best for a Lesser Black-backed, which are the most common and likely dark-mantled gull to be seen in Utah in winter anyway, becoming more and more common every year it seems
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
I have seen this species many times now, every winter/early spring the past 3 years, and my first in February 2009
References consulted: Sibley Guide to birds, D.A. Sibley 2000
Description from: From memory
Observer: Bryant Olsen
Observer's address: 2688 East 700 South #105,SLC,UT 8410
Observer's e-mail address: **
Other observers who independently identified this bird: none that I am aware of
Date prepared: 01-11-2013
Additional material: Photos 
Additional_Comments: Will send photos to the webmaster