Western Gulls While Waiting

One of the great things about living on Vancouver Island is the time spent waiting for a ferry to either travel to the mainland or to visit one of the Gulf Islands. We took a trip to Salt Spring Island during the March Break and while waiting in the ferry lineup I had the opportunity to take a few photographs of some cooperative gulls.

Western Gulls (Larus occidentalis)
Probable Western Gulls (Larus occidentalis) waiting at the BC Ferries dock in Crofton, British Columbia.

These two gulls are either Western Gulls (Larus occidentalis) or Western/Glaucous-winged Gull hybrids. While their backs aren’t exceptionally dark slate-gray the wing-tips are definitely black and much darker than the mantle which suggests Western Gull. The other field marks for Western Gull are pretty good – yellow/orange orbital ring, lighter eye with a dark iris, and a pinkish gape so I’m leaning more toward “purish” Western Gull. The bill is nice and heavy as well which fits with the Western Gull.

Western Gull (Larus occidentalis)
Western Gull (Larus occidentalis) field marks include a pinkish gape, orange-yellow orbital ring, light eye with dark iris, and thick-tipped heavy bill.

That being said, I’m no gull expert by any stretch of the imagination and if anyone wants to chip in their two cents on a positive identification of these two gulls I’d be happy to hear a second opinion!

Note that no gulls were fed in order to get these photographs. However, I had the feeling that they were expecting a little bribe for being so obliging.