The kumlieni puzzle

Identification of birds plumaged between Thayer’s and Iceland Gulls has always created debate. Some treat the kumlieni-gulls as a subspecies of Iceland gull, and some mean it is a hybrid between Thayer’s and Iceland Gulls.

North-American based Steve Hampton just published a webpage with a suggested key that can be used to get an indication on what to label individual Thayer’s, kumlien’s and Iceland Gulls in their first winter plumage. The key is based on rating different parts of the birds plumage and bare parts, ending up with a total score which is used for identification. This is the first update, and the author wants comments and feedback to further refine the scales.

Read more (external link)

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One thought on “The kumlieni puzzle

  1. A Hybrid index was established for the Olympic Gull complex in the 1970s. I don’t know anyone in
    Oregon or Washington who uses it today. I like the idea, but can’t ever get anyone else interested.
    I myself can never remember if 1 is “pure”Western and 30 is “pure”Glaucous-wing, or vice versa.
    It was used in two breeding colony studies for mated pairs, so it covers only adult birds. Pattern
    of open wings was not considered either. Hampton is obviously more concerned with wintering
    birds. The head shape/gonys angle/bill size index seems too complicated and subjective, but the
    overall approach is great. The Olympic Gulls nest surrounded by civilization and are thus relatively
    easy to observe on the breeding ground. My year ’round contact with the group makes me totally
    comfortable considering the Kumlien’s Gull the resident of an analogous hybrid zone between
    Iceland and Thayer’s Gull. I can’t imagine anyone would ever secure funding that would allow
    comprehensive visits on the ground to the colonies in the zone.
    There’s certainly no reason to confer subspecies status to Kumlien’s. It’s quite simply the
    Olympic Gull of the Far North. Likewise the BOU has shot itself in the foot by not recognizing
    Thayer’s Gull as a full species. I believe the overwhelming majority of the world’s larophiles
    live and practice their art on the North Atlantic, primarily the northeast Atlantic at that. Most of them have never visited the winter flocks of Oregon and Washington, where hybrids can outnumber “pure”individuals. I welcome you all to visit. December through March.

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