Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2014-033

Common name:

Little Gull

Scientific name: Hydrocoloeus minutus
Date: 15 Nov 2014
Time: 10:40 AM
Length of time observed: 6 minutes
Number: 1
Age: First-winter
Sex: Unknown
Location: Antelope Island Causeway
County: Davis
Elevation: 4193 feet
Distance to bird: 20 yards
Optical equipment: Nikon Monarch 10x42 binoculars and Nikon DSLR with 80-400mm lens.
Weather: Windy and cold (upper 20s F?)
Light Conditions: Overcast.
Description:        Size of bird: Small gull, slightly smaller than Bonaparte's Gulls in direct comparison.
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Gull
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: See photos
(Description:)            Bill Type:  
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
Please see photos and similar species section for identifying characteristics.
Song or call & method of delivery: None.
Behavior: Foraging from the surface of the Great Salt Lake. Often doing a kind of "touching down" with feet similar to that of Wilson's Storm-Petrel.
Habitat: Great Salt Lake shoreline, along the causeway.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Small size and distinctive M-shape visible on upper surface of the wings eliminated most similar species. Size was easily assessed in comparison to adjacent Bonaparte's Gulls, California Gulls, and Ring-billed Gulls, all of which were larger than this bird. Black-headed Gull eliminated by size (this bird was smaller than, not larger than, Bonaparte's Gulls), and by the white underside to the outer primaries and bolder black in the (lesser?) secondary coverts, forming a bold band in the upper inner wing. Bonaparte's Gull was eliminated by the slightly smaller size of this bird, the more distinct dusky cap, the shorter bill, the shorter primary projection, and especially the bold dark bar on the dorsal surface of the inner wing. Also, the dorsal surface of the inner primaries was more black than on Bonaparte's Gull.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
This is my first experience with this plumage of Little Gull, but I have seen one adult Little Gull before at the same location (see record 2009-21) and I have extensive experience with Bonaparte's Gulls in all post-juvenile plumages.
References consulted: Sibley Guide to Birds.
Description from: From photo(s) taken at the time of the sighting
Observer: Ryan P. O'Donnell
Observer's address: 1098 Crescent Dr., Logan, UT 843418 Crescent Dr., Logan, UT 84341
Observer's e-mail address: **
Other observers who independently identified this bird: Initially found and photographed three days earlier, by Paul Higgins I believe, but not reported in the two days between that observation and this despite many attempts. On this occasion, also observed by Stephanie Greenwood, Andrew Durso, Bob Atwood, Cullen Clark, Britney Clark, Kendal Morris, Mike Taylor, Tim Sullivan, Jeanne Sullivan, Delena Williams, and Courtney (last name unknown). Many other observers viewed this bird later the same day and in the subsequent days.
Date prepared: 20 Nov 2014
Additional material: Photos
Additional_Comments: nnina: No Name IF Not Accepted