Posted by: Dan | February 4, 2007

Gulls at Stewart Park

There had been reports of a few rarities in the Cayuga Lake basin recently, and today I finally had time to go hunting for one of them: a couple Iceland Gulls (Larus glaucoides). These birds breed in the high Arctic of Eastern Canada and Greenland, and venture down the Eastern seaboard during winter. While common further North, they’re not regularly seen as far South or inland as Ithaca. As many as three Iceland Gulls may have been seen at Stewart Park, however.

I didn’t see the Iceland Gulls though. I could have missed them, being no expert on gulls and beset with the great difficulty in distinguishing nearly identical species apart and all, but I don’t think so.

Stewart Park Gulls

I did, however, see a number of Great Black-backed Gulls (Larus marinus). These gulls are unmistakable, being the only gull hereabouts with a much darker back, and a larger body size to boot.

Otherwise, there were very many Ring-billed Gulls (Larus delawarensis). I got this nice picture while standing next to some individuals who were tossing breadcrumbs into the air:

Ring-billed Gulls

The other gull species that I noticed was a couple Herring Gulls (Larus argentatus), such as this immature (the large one on the right):


Those three are the ones that can be seen very easily here in the Cayuga Lake basin, however, and I’ve seen them before. As a rather bad birdwatcher, I don’t have others on my lifelist yet, but I’ve heard of others infrequently being seen hereabouts (besides Iceland Gulls), such as Bonaparte’s Gulls, Little Gulls, and Lesser Black-backed Gulls. I’d have loved to see any of those – but oh well – I enjoyed seeing what I saw.


  1. Love your gull shots! Bonapart gulls are easy to identify but Little Gulls are mixed in the middle of the bonapart gulls and have the dark underwing! LBBG’s can be tricky but not that hard to id if you look close at the GBBG’s!

  2. I like your new banner and tag line.

    I’m also selfishly glad to see a birdwatcher who is more accomplished than I admit to difficulty distinguishing some species. I feel better now about describing my bird feeder regulars as “sparrows of some kind”.


  3. The second photo’s my favourite. Fantastic!

  4. Hey check out this video. When Ben introduces his date to Mom and Dad, Mom is wearing a Cornell T-shirt.


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