Eye Color Variation in California Gulls

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Close up showing eye color variation in a California GullClose up showing eye color variation in a California Gull – Nikon D500, f10, 1/1000, ISO 200, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

The typical eye color for California Gulls is a very dark brown that appears almost but there can be variations in their eye color.

Yesterday I was inside a vehicle photographing other birds when I saw this California Gull walk up close and when I focused on it to take a few portraits of the gull I noticed its unusual eyes. They remind me of polished Onyx or Snowflake Obsidian with flecks of light grays and sparkles of white in the stone.

California Gull close up in nonbreeding plumageCalifornia Gull close up in nonbreeding plumage – Nikon D500, f8, 1/1600, ISO 400, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

This is a California Gull with typical dark eyes taken at the same pond the day before I photographed the one with the unusual eyes. There are no flecks of lighter colors in its eyes.

Eye color variation in a California GullEye color variation in a California Gull – Nikon D500, f10, 1/800, ISO 200, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

This image shows the left eye of the California Gull I photographed yesterday that shows both eyes have the variation in eye color but the pattern of the flecks and sparkles is a bit different than it is in the right eye.

I have seen this eye color variation a few times before but these close up portraits show the variation much better than other images I have taken of California Gulls with different eye colors.

California Gull close up in DecemberCalifornia Gull close up in December – Nikon D500, f11, 1/800, ISO 400, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

This is another close up taken two days ago showing a California Gull with normal colored eyes. Eye color in California Gulls does not change during breeding season and remains the same throughout their lives so the bird I photographed yesterday will have those sparkling eyes for the rest of its life.

I guess sometimes it pays to keep an eye out for subtle variations in the birds I photograph. Sorry for the pun! (Not really)

Life is good.

Mia

I’ve seen an article about the percentage of California Gulls that have eye color variations some place on line but couldn’t find it this morning because while I was working on the images for this post my computer decided to lock up on me. Bugger!

 

4 Comments

  1. Elephant's Child December 19, 2016 at 12:10 pm

    A gorgeous thing to see. Thank you.

  2. Patty Chadwick December 19, 2016 at 9:34 am

    What beautiful eyes! They do look like snowflake obsidian, a beautiful,intetesting stone…

  3. Carroll Tarvin December 19, 2016 at 7:07 am

    I wonder if the eye color variation effects their vision?

  4. Liz Cormack December 19, 2016 at 7:02 am

    How interesting. I like the sparkly eyes. Great portrait photos too!

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