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The many varieties of gulls are easily recognized by their characteristic wing shapes, short tails and aerodynamic design. Superb fliers, watching them soar, glide, circle and conduct investigative fly-byes have long been the source of inspirations to aircraft designers. Gulls in Washington state are know to fly up to forty miles each way between nesting and feeding grounds. Their highly aerodynamic shapes and the ability to achieve an autopilot mode that minimizes energy consumption contribute to these long flights.
Young gulls take four years to acquire their adult plumage. In this photo the young gull on the left still has mottled coloring and a pale bill with a black tip. The fully yellow beak with a red spot on the lower mandible is characteristic of the mature adult. Both the adult on the right and this young gull have the pinkish legs of Glaucous Gulls. These gulls rarely stray from salt water areas and inhabit the coast from Washington north to Alaska.
With its all black beak, mottled plumage and not yet pink legs, this is a first year gull, likely a Glaucous Winged gull. It will change from year to year acquiring its full adult coloring in its fourth year.
The yellow beak with the red spot, pink legs and feet and light gray wing backs identify this as a Glaucous or Glaucous Winged Gull. The slightly darker eye and smaller size mean this is most likely the Glaucous Winged version.