Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2021-72

Common name:

Little Gull

Scientific name: Hydrocoloeus minutus
Date: 11/28/2021
Time: 8:10am
Length of time observed: 20 minutes
Number: 1
Age: adult
Sex:  ?
Location: Antelope Island Causeway 2nd bridge
County: Davis
Latilong: 41.066918, -112.230549
Elevation: 4200ft
Distance to bird: 50-150m
Optical equipment: Nikon 10x42 Binoculars, Kowa 88mm spotting scope
Weather: Cold(35F), calm and sunny
Light Conditions: Excellent, low angle of morning sun had bird fully illuminated
Description:        Size of bird: small gull
(Description:)       Basic Shape: gull like
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: mostly pale gray and white, black underwings
(Description:)            Bill Type: typical gull
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
We noted a large group of gulls gathered at the outflow of Farmington Bay into the lake, so we stopped to look through them. Two distinct groups of gulls, a few dozen large Larus gulls standing in the shallow water with a swarm of smaller gulls flying around above them. The Larus were a mix of Ring-billed, California, Herring and 1 second cycle Lesser Black-backed. Most of the flying smaller gulls were Bonaparte's, then I noticed in my binoculars one small flying gull with striking black under wings which stood out against the paleness of the bird and was very striking. I found it in the scope and noted the white trailing edge to the underwing and white wing tips, as well as dark cap with a faint ear spot, tiny black bill, and orange legs. It was uniform pale gray above on the back and upper wings, with no black visible on the upper side of the wings, tail was pure white above and below. Wings seemed shorter and more rounded than Bonaparte's, and the bird was notabl
y smaller than the Bonaparte's when they were right next to each other. Everything matched an adult Little Gull, which was a life bird for Max and Ella and my 1st adult!
(see photos)
Song or call & method of delivery: None heard
Behavior: Mostly seen in flight mixed with Bonaparte's Gulls, occasionally would drop and pick stuff off the surface of the water, I only saw it land on the water once and very briefly.
Habitat: Outflow channel of Farmington Bay freshwater into open salt water of Great Salt Lake
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Most similar in plumage, size and behavior to Bonaparte's Gulls, however Bonaparte's were notably larger with a distinctive wing pattern of a white leading edge and black trailing edge, also paler head lacking dark cap. Direct comparison.

Ross's Gull also similar but has a wedge shaped tail, bigger head with a gentle dove like expression lacking dark cap and lacks black underwings, often has a pinkish tint to belly. Would be larger, similar to Bonaparte's in size.

Sabine's Gull has a bold black and white wing pattern in all
plumages, gray nape in non-breeding and juvenile plumage, and adults have a yellow tipped bill. Also larger, similar in size to Bonaparte's.

Terns have forked tails and longer more pointed wings

All Larus gulls much larger with big yellow bills as adults
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
My 4th, however my 1st adult.
References consulted: Sibley App.
Description from: From photo(s) taken at the time of the sighting
Observer: Bryant Olsen
Observer's address: 84102
Observer's e-mail address: **
Other observers who independently identified this bird: Max Malmquist and Ella Sorensen were with me
Date prepared: 11/28/21
Additional material: Photos
Additional comments: eBird checklist: