Comparison Page

Both 1st winter Caspian and Yellow-legged Gull are shown here next to each other and next to Lesser Black-backed and Herring Gull in the same plumage. Most pictures are also a link to another page with more information and/or (larger) pictures of that particular bird. Unless stated otherwise were all pictures taken by me in the North-eastern part of the Netherlands.

 Yellow-legged Gull Juvenile moulting to first winter. 2 September. Note the firm blunt-tipped bill, large 'deep' head, full body, long legs and wings. The tertials are dark-brown with a small pale edge. The same pattern is visible in the lesser and median wingcoverts. The greater wingcoverts normally show a chequered pattern which becomes fainter/darker towards the outer ones. The head is pale with a faint darker mask around the eye. Click in the picture for more pictures and info

 Caspian Gull Juvenile moulting to first winter. 2 September. Compared to the YLG it is much smaller headed and the bill is more narrow and fine-tipped. The body is more elongated with long wings and a high breast (as if it is holding its breath). The legs normally look longer and thinner than in YLG. The tertials are dark brown with a rather broad pale edge. The wingcoverts look dull-brown with a small paler edge. The greater coverts are dull brown wit a paler tip, forming a pale wingbar. Click in the picture for more pictures and info

 Yellow-legged Gull. 19 January. A rather small and slender-build bird. Note again the pale head with the faint mask round the eye. The scapulars are 2nd generation and show a bold double anchor on a pale brown-grey to grey background, totally different from Caspian Gull. The tertials are dark-brown whilst the pale edge is partly worn off. Note that this bird has several 2nd generation wingcoverts. Click in the picture for more pictures and info

 Caspian Gull. 12 December. As usual for 1st winter CG the head is almost white in which the beady eye stands out. The scapulars show a dark shaftstreak wit a faint anchor on a pale-grey background. Some upper scapulars can show a diamond-shaped pattern. Note again the tertial-pattern and the pale-tipped greater (and median) coverts, forming a (double) wingbar. Click in the picture for more pictures and info

 Yellow-legged Gull. 9 November (picture by Theo Bakker). A bird with a very pale head and underparts. Note again the blunt-tipped bill, full body and the long wings. The bold pattern in the scapulars is very typical indeed.

 Caspian Gull. 20 November. Also a pale bird. The wingbars are rather striking in this individual. Note its bulging breast as if it's holding its breath. The pattern in the scapulars is nondescript in this bird. Click in the picture for more pictures and info



 Caspian Gull (left) and Herring Gull. Helgoland, Germany, 1 October. Note the differences in wing- and tailpattern. The HG has a dull-black tailband with irregular markings on the upper tailcoverts, whilst the CG has a broad deeper black tailband with some dots in the UTC. Note the typical fine black baring in the outer tailfeathers, just above the tailband of the CG. The difference in wingpattern, especially in the greater coverts, between the two species are very obvious in this picture. Note also the difference in wingpanel between the two. In CG it is much more 'Venetian Blind' whilst in HG it is a more solid pale area. Click in the picture for more pictures and info

 Yellow-legged Gull. 3 March. Unlike both CG and HG this species shows a white uppertail with a contrasting black and not that broad tailband, which is typically a bit tapered near the edges and doesn't show the fine baring as in CG. In the upperwing the greater coverts are chequered on the inner and almost unmarked dark on the outer. The bird shows almost no wingpanel or a vague one in the inner three primaries, thus separating it from both CG and HG. Click in the picture for more pictures and info


 Herring Gull. February. Due to bodymoult and/or wear this bird has a pale head and breast and the tertials are worn-off and therefore solid brown. This can cause confusion with YLG. However, bill- and headshape are different and its legs and wings are shorter than in YLG. Note also the diamond-shaped pattern on the scapulars and the contrasting pattern in the wingcoverts. The closed primaries of HG are mostly 'dusty' dark-brown and almost black in YLG. When really doubting such a bird, wait until you see its tail (barred uppertail) and upperwing (wingpanel). This bird was ringed as a 1st winter in Lauwersoog, the Netherlands, and photographed there.

 Yellow-legged Gull. 5 November. A large and 'bulky' bird, looking rather short-legged. However all the characteristics of YLG are present: firm blunt-tipped bill, large pale head, pale underparts, long wings, contrasting scapulars with anchor-pattern and dark-brown tertials with narrow pale edge. It has a 2nd generation median wingcovert which is a good sign to its identity. However, not every YLG shows 2nd generation wingcoverts in autumn and winter.


 Yellow-legged Gull. 3 November. A rather slender bird, which is also rather worn, indicating an older bird of southern origin. The bill is blunt-tipped and pink-based. The latter is not unusual for YLG. Note again the large 'deep' head and long wings.

 Lesser Black-backed Gull. 31 October. Because both YLG and LBBG are variable both in size and plumage they can be hard to separate, especially in juvenile plumage. This small bird is a typical LBBG with a fine-tipped bill, small head and just a few 2nd generation scapulars which are dark-grey, usually with a very bold pattern, different from YLG. In case of doubt wait until you see the upper tail. LBBG usually shows a broad tailband (sometimes the whole tail is black) with bared uppertail coverts, both never shown by YLG. See also the larger picture below



Caspian Gull. 12 February. A most typical bird in a relaxed pose.

For more info and pictures of this bird click here









Yellow-legged Gull. 4 December. A somewhat dark-looking bird but otherwise most typical. Note particularly its headshape which is very YLG and different from both Herring and Caspian Gull.

For more info and pictures of this bird click here









 Lesser Black-backed Gull. 31 October.











Below: Herring Gull. Texel, 5 October. The contrasting chequered pattern in the wingcoverts (especially the greater coverts) and tertials as well as the short wings are very different from both YLG and CG


 Rudy Offereins


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