4cy European Herring Gull Green Y.BPS – 20140602

Images of a 4th-calendar year type European Herring Gull Larus argentatus argenteus, ringed on 2 June 2014 as Green Y.BPS in the gull colony of IJmuiden (Forteiland), the Netherlands. It was caught on the nest while breeding.

Aging it as a 4th calendar year was done based on the brown coverts, the adult looking primaries and the presence of the markings in the tail.

Measurements that were taken indicate that this is a male.

I find it fascinating that gulls of this age are chosen by adults to start a bond and to actively take part in the breeding process, despite the immature plumage features. Does this indicate that pair bonding is all to do with postures and vocalisation, or does it mean that there is a shortage of adult males?

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8 thoughts on “4cy European Herring Gull Green Y.BPS – 20140602

  1. How old is his mate? Is the nest in a really crappy location near the edge of the colony?

    I’ve heard of 3 year old gulls nesting in these circumstances before.

    Or maybe he’s just a really charming and charismatic guy… 🙂

    • The partner is an adult of an unknown age, so older than 4 calendar years. The nest was located in a secluded spot, somewhat near the edge, but the same is true for the nests of many adult gulls because space is at a premium on the island.

  2. I have maybe trapped around 10 such birds in Norwegian colonies over the years, from Finnmark to Vest-Agder. I also caught one LBBG that i aged as 3cy in a fuscus colony in Helgeland 10 years ago. All gulls with immature traits caught at nest have been males. They seem to be very successfull birds that often can be seen in the colony year after year after ringing.

        • I’m just thinking about how young and inexperienced parrots/parakeets will sometimes go through the motions of breeding, but are sometimes unable to get it right and don’t seem to know what they’re doing. e.g. eggs will be laid in a inappropriate place and get damaged, eggs will be laid but the pair won’t brood them, or the chicks will be neglected (I suppose that they’d die in the wild, instead of becoming hand-reared pets!), or the male bird won’t gather food for the female in the nest. Wondering if it’s similar for gulls…

  3. We do not know the breeding outcome in most Norwegian cases, but at least two have had eggs in hatching phase, so they do sometimes come that far. I would guess that in years with good food abundance pairs with a young male will have a good chance of raising at least one chick, but for us, in mixed colonies in small islands, it is difficult to follow individual pairs.

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