Slaty-backed Gull
Larus schistisagus



All 2013 photos on this page are of a single, adult Slaty-backed Gull, discovered and identified by Beth Olson, Skye Haas and me, in Marquette, Michigan, on 16 March 2013. This is the third record for Michigan of Slaty-backed Gull, and only the second for the Upper Peninsula of this Asian species. In other words, proper documentation is crucial. On this page, I have provided a chronological photographic record of this bird’s stay in Marquette, as well as a bit of commentary on field marks (when appropriate). Here is a link to a story, with video, that a local news station (TV 6, Fox UP) did on this bird (this segment on TV 6 was named by the reporter as his favorite story during his stint here in the U.P., as you can read here).



16 March 2013, Picnic Rocks. First view, just coming off the ice, in flight, toward us (our first look at this bird in flight; a dramatic moment). Here is a view of this bird as it flew past us (note especially broad trailing edge and heavy neck mottling, broad window on P10 and slightly smaller window on P9); and here is another. Here is shot of this bird on the ice, before it took flight (note adult Iceland Gull at far left).


17 March 2013, Picnic Rocks. First view, good but distant view of the “string of pearls” in the outer primaries (i.e., white tongues on P6–P8). Here is another view of this bird (with Iceland, Glaucous and Herring Gulls); note especially the bright pink legs.


24 March 2013, Lower Harbor. First view, note the bird’s bulky size, black outer primaries versus slate-colored back, white wingtip patterns (as above), and broad trailing edge. Here is another view of this bird (note same features as in previous shot, especially the “string of pearls” on P6–P8).


29 March 2013, South Beach. First view, distant shot, but good view of slate-colored mantle and reddish/pinkish legs; also good size comparison with adjacent Herring Gull.


6 April 2013, South Beach. First view; note especially bill structure (stout with parallel edges) and pink legs.



Another Slaty-backed Gull appeared in Marquette on 31 March 2014. Perhaps it is the same bird as the 2013 bird?


2 April 2014, South Beach. First view; note especially the “string of pearls”, the large white trailing edge to the secondaries, the bulky size (in comparison to the nearby Herring Gulls), and the dark (pink) legs.