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This gull was at Elliot Landfill, Corpus Christi, Texas on February 17, 2005; I feel that it is likely a first-winter Slaty-backed Gull Larus schistisagus, even though the bill is perhaps a little small (maybe a female?). I'd appreciate feedback/other suggestions - thanks:

Note the dark, rich pink legs in the shot below compared to adult and imm HERGs (bird is in the rear, towards top-left of center):

I emailed The Ujiharas - webmasters for THE Website for Japanese gulls saying "There have been a few statements from some gull fans questioning certain features [of the above bird], and I'd really appreciate your thoughts on these:-"
- here is their reply (the words of the other gull fans are bold only; the Ujiharas' replies are in bold italics):-

Thank you for the nice gull and nice photos. When I looked at your bird, the name SBGU immediately came to my mind.

Here are quoted comments I had received about the above gull:

1) "{on your bird} that rump and uppertail coverts look surprisingly
blotchy and even spotted, overall brownish. The vast majority of FW SBGs
show largely whiteish rump and uppertail coverts (at least ground
colour), barred or spotted with dark brown
".... Do you feel that the
rump on my bird is a negative point for SBGU?

Rump and uppertail coverts of SBGU show dark spots/bars in really various degree. I think your bird is safely within the normal range of SBGU.

2) "most FW SBG show rather more speckling on the outer two pairs of
tails feathers than this bird
"... Is this really true? does the tail
pattern of my bird seem wrong to you?

I think the tail pattern is also quite normal for SBGU.

3) "the rather odd distribution of pale and brown on the bird. Most FW
SBGs when worn show rather more obvious white or whitish on the
underparts than on the bird in your images (eg on the belly, which looks
almost solid brown in your images
"... Do the underparts of my bird
trouble you for SBGU in Feb?

Far from that, uniformly brownish underparts of SBGU are normal even in Feb.

4) "{SBGU} do not usually look clearly streak-crowned like the bird in
your images
"... Do you agree?

The streaked crown of your bird is also quite normal for SBGU.

5) "the scapulars: usually, bleached looking birds look more contrasting
" - Other gullers have also wondered if the upperparts lack enough
contrast for a SBGU in Feb - what do you think?

Does the 'contrast' mean distinct markings such as anchors? Or, 'contrast between new scapulars and worn coverts'? I think many SBGUs show more distinct markings on scapulars than in your bird. However, many other SBGUs often show plain scapulars just like your bird, though those are usually not as extremely uniform as in GWGU.
In my experience, progress in molt/wear/bleaching of SBGU is very variable. And I think the progress in your bird is normal for SBGU in Feb.

6) Are there any other features that you feel are not good for SBGU?

Your bird looks like a normal female-type SBGU to me. I don't see any wrong features for that.

- of course, this does not address the possibilities of this bird being a New World taxon (or hybrid thereof), but it does at least establish that it looks perfectly fine for a SBGU.