Georgia Birding and Nature

Thayer's Gull
Recent Georgia Photos of Rare Birds
Lake Hartwell, Georgia
Lake Seminole
Lake Walter F. George
Lake Horton
West Point Lake
GI Horse Park
Yard List
GA Birding Year 2004-6
Yellow-billed Loons
Red-throated Loons (24 Inland)
Red-throated Loons (Inland)
Pacific Loons
Western Grebe
Red-necked Grebes
Eared Grebes
Horned Grebe (summer)
Great Cormorant
Magnificent Frigatebirds (Inland)
Sabine's Gulls
Thayer's Gull
Thayer's Gull - more photos
Franklin's Gulls
California Gull, Glaucous Gull, Iceland Gull, Thayer's Gull
Little Gull
Black-legged Kittiwake
Lesser Black-backed Gulls (Inland)
Sooty Terns, Royal Tern & Sandwich Tern (Inland)
Arctic Tern (Inland)
Pomarine Jaegers (Inland)
Long-tailed Jaegers (Inland)
Parasitic Jaeger (Inland)
Brown Pelicans (Inland)
American White Pelicans (76 in Piedmont)
American White Pelicans (100+ inland)
Common Mergansers
Mottled Duck (Inland)
Long-tailed Ducks
Rare Ducks
Rare Ducks for Summer
Greater White-fronted Geese
Barnacle Goose
Ross's Geese (7)
Ross's Geese in Upson Co
Ross's Geese Elsewhere
Snow Geese
Snow Geese in Summer
Mute Swans (appearing wild)
Black Swans (exotic)
Bell's Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Scott's Oriole
Cave Swallows
Rare Swallows
Black-billed Cuckoos
Clay-colored Sparrows
Lark Sparrows
Lincoln's Sparrow
Wilson's Warblers
Audubon's Warbler
Alder and Willow Flycatchers
Yellow-bellied Flycatchers
Least Flycatchers
Olive-sided Flycatcher
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
Western Kingbird
Brewer's Blackbirds
Yellow-headed Blackbirds
Common Ground-doves in Piedmont
Rare Shorebirds
Wilson's Phalarope
Long-billed Curlews
Willets (Inland)
American Avocets (Inland)
Baird's Sandpiper
Buff-breasted Sandpipers
Upland Sandpipers 52 seen
American Golden Plover
Anhingas in Piedmont
Anhingas Nesting in Piedmont
Roseate Spoonbill in Piedmont
Wood Storks in Piedmont
Night-Herons in Piedmont
Herons, Egrets, Ibises
Plegadis Ibis (Inland)
White Ibis (Piedmont in Winter)
Swainson's Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk (Western)
Golden Eagle
Swallow-tailed Kites in Piedmont
Pelagic Birds
Cedar Waxwings Nesting in Southern Piedmont
31 Species of Warbler in 1 Day
Birds Abroad - Dominican Republic
Birds Abroad - Jamaica
Birds Abroad - St. Lucia
Birds Abroad - Barbados
Birds Abroad - St. Martin
Birds Abroad - St. Croix
Birds Abroad - Antigua
Birds Abroad - Guatemala
Birds Abroad - Central America & Caribbean
Birds Abroad - West Coast
Texas Birds

Michael and I found this Thayer's Gull at West Point Lake Dam in Georgia on 11/12/04.  There are no records of Thayer's Gull for GA.  This is an excellent site for gulls though they can be hard to see up close.  I have not birded this lake much over the years but have discovered here recently: Lesser Black-backed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, and Black-legged Kittiwake.  Bonaparte's, Herring, Laughing, and Franklin's are becoming increasingly reliable at this site.  I recently had about 20 Laughing Gulls at once, but that is unusual.  Michael Beohm had 50+ Laughing Gulls after one of the Hurricanes as well as pelagics like Sooty Tern.  Other birders from GA and AL have had some great finds here.
My $200 camera actually did a good job at capturing critical field marks.  The bird was lighter than what is in these photos.  The photos don't capture the neatly patterned mantle, which was present, but that's ok.  I did not lighten up or add contrast to the photos. 
The bird was studied at fairly close range, and all field marks including wing pattern were seen.


Note the structure, which is similar to Iceland Gull.
The round head with peaked forehead create a gentle, innocent expression.


The tertials and the primaries can be seen.
Note the pale edging to the primaries.


Michael Beohm and I found a juvenile plumaged THAYER'S GULL at West Point Dam Friday morning, 11/12/04. The bird was above the dam on the water beside the boom. It perched atop the boom at one point. The bird was present for about 30 minutes before flying west out of sight (into Alabama). That was the only time we saw it there despite being there for several hours.

Thayer's Gull is not on the official GA list, though there have been reports in the surrounding states.

Bare in mind that Thayer's Gulls look something like Herring Gulls. Herring Gulls are at this location and can show many variations, so keep that in mind if you look for the bird. 


Size of a small Herring Gull. There were Herrings to compare it with.

Head round at all times and peaked in front.

Bill not large. Consistent with Thayer's range, but not stubby. The bill was black.

Color of the bird was a light brownish-gray with a touch of a frosty appearance.

Mantle was neatly checkered. Scapulars were dark centered.

Tertials were dark centered like shown in the Sibley book under "paler juvenile".

The tertials were not darker than the body.

The primaries on the sitting bird were darker than the body and appeared dark brown with light fringes.

The bird spread its wings a number of times and we could see:

what Sibley describes as the "dark outer webs of the primaries" (the effect of which were quite noticeable).

The underside of the primaries were light, unlike Herring Gull, with a very narrow dark trailing edge.

The secondaries were not dark like with Herring Gull.

The tail was a dark brown but not as dark as Herring Gull.

The darker primaries, webbing in primaries, dark centered tertials, and darker tail eliminated Iceland Gull from consideration.

Other birds at West Point:

Bonaparte's Gulls

Herring Gulls

Forster's Terns

Common Loons (30+)

Horned Grebe

Bald Eagles (4+)


handful of ducks

We then went down to Water F. George Reservoir:



BALD EAGLE (about 8)


handful of ducks and such

Good birding,

Eric Beohm

Griffin, GA