Louisiana Ornithological Society’s
Iceland Gull, Laurus glaucoides
One, first winter bird.
St. Landry Parish. Crawfish pond on east side of Brooks Road about ˝ mile south of intersection with LA 358 and a mile north of intersection with Dusty Road.
March 11, 2014
4:00-4:30 PM CDST.
Jay V. Huner
428 Hickory Hill Drive
Boyce, LA 71409
Mid-afternoon, light from behind. No shade issues.
Swift 10 x 42 binoculars – good condition. Eagle Optics Raven Scope – fair condition.
150 to 30 yards.
Working wetland impoundment being used for a crawfish production. Rice planted as crawfish forage.
Bird found in crawfish pond in company with many Ring-billed Gulls, a few Laughing Gulls, and a first year Herring Gull. Bird was swimming in the pond when first found. It subsequently flew south to a levee between that pond and the adjacent pond. It remained on the levee while I approached it to within 30 yards taking pictures. It subsequently flew permitting me to get an out of focus image and subsequently flew away.
Gull was strikingly white with no dark feathers seen while resting or in flight. Nearby Ring-billed Gulls about 2/3 size of this gull and somewhat smaller than the nearby Herring Gull. Bill was somewhat compact and bicolored, clearly compact when compared to that of the Herring Gull in same images. Head appeared rounded. Legs and feet off pink/purple. The feathers did not seem to show any significant wear or fading as might be expected with a worn, bleached out Herring Gull. Wings projected well beyond tail. According to the Howell-Dunn Peterson “Gulls of the Americas”, Iceland Gull is “…Distinguished from Glaucous Gull by more petite build , smaller bill, and relatively longer wing projections…”
Could not detect the bird calling.
Apparently similar to first year Glaucous Gull but Glaucous Gull is much larger and the bill is more robust. Wing projections are said to be longer in Iceland Gull and head is supposed to be longer.
All photos have been submitted to P. Conover, D. Dittmann, and S. Cardiff.
Some years ago, I saw an Iceland Gull at some distance at Niagra Falls, Ontario, Canada and I saw the Mandeville, LA Iceland Gull in November 2013.
I cannot say for certain that the bird is an Iceland Gull. I have never seen a large, brilliant white gull in any working wetland system. The field marks seen at the site and review of characteristics on images are consistent with a first year Iceland Gull. The large Laurus spp. are well known for hybridization. To me, this bird did not seem to share characteristics with a comparable Glaucous Gull but I did initially believe the bird to be a Glaucous Gull.