Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2013-12

Common name:

Western Gull

Scientific name: Larus occidentalis
Date: 01-14-2013
Time: 12:30pm
Length of time observed: 20 minutes
Number: 1
Age: 3rd cycle immature
Sex: unknown
Location: Lake Park in West Valley
County: Salt Lake
Elevation: 4250
Distance to bird: 50 yards
Optical equipment: 10X50 Bushnell binoculars, Cannon SX20 Digital Camera, 20-60X Alpen spotting scope
Weather: Sunny.clear but very cold
Light Conditions: excellent
Description:        Size of bird: large gull
(Description:)       Basic Shape: gull like
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: very dark charcoal gray back,pale head and white breast
(Description:)            Bill Type: long, gull like
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
First noticed the dark gray back,then the pink feet and massive bill. Large bird,slight larger than the Herring Gulls nearby,and much larger than the California and Ring-billed Gulls. Massive spade shaped bill very prominent.
(see photos)
Song or call & method of delivery: none heard
Behavior: Most of the time it was preening on the snow bank, a couple time the flock spooked and they all took off,but it would land back in the same spot.
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 backed to be anything but a dark mantled gull, too large to be a Lesser Black-backed and it had pink feet which LBBG should not. Yellow-footed Gulls also have yellow legs, not pink like this birds. Great Black-backed Gull should have duller pink legs and a more massive bill, also there are no accepted records of GBBG in Utah
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
Yes.Saw 2 last winter at Farmington Bay,saw one in Feb.2011 at Farmington Bay,and saw one in Feb.2009 at Farmington Bay.
References consulted: Sibley Guide to birds, D.A. Sibley 2000
Description from: From memory
Observer: Bryant Olsen
Observer's address: 688 East 700 South #105,SLC,UT 84102
Observer's e-mail address: **
Other observers who independently identified this bird: Matthew Pendleton,and other present on the Great Salt Lake Audubon field trip I was leading
Date prepared: 01-14-2013
Additional material: Photos 
Additional_Comments: Will send photos to the webmaster. Also Matthew has photos that I will request he sends in too