31 July 2022

July 2022 Monthly Notables


  • Little Gull (8 adult and 2nd cycle types). Norfolk County, Ontario. 01 July 2022.
  • Glaucous Gull (2nd cycle). Washington County, Maine. 01 July 2022.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (2nd cycle). Los Angeles County, California. 03 July 2022.
  • Little Gull (3 2nd cycles). Iosco County, Michigan. 06 July 2022.
  • Franklin's Gull (2nd cycle). Monroe County, Michigan. 07 July 2022.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (2nd cycle). Beaverhead County, Montana. 07 July 2022.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (adult). Santa Cruz County, California. 07 July 2022.
  • Herring Gull (2nd cycle). Keith County, Nebraska. 09 July 2022.
  • Sabine's Gull (adult type). Dare County, North Carolina. 10 July 2022.
  • Franklin's Gull (adult). Islet County, Quebec. 10 July 2022. 
  • Glaucous Gull (2nd cycle). Manitowoc County, Wisconsin. 11 July 2022.
  • Laughing Gull (2nd cycle). Labrador-Happy Valley-Goose Bay County, Labrador. 13 July 2022.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (2nd cycle). San Mateo County, California. 15 July 2022.
  • Little Gull (adult). Montreal County, Quebec. 16 July 2022. 
  • Short-billed Gull (adult type). Union County, Oregon. 16 July 2022.
  • Franklin's Gull (adult). Hampden County, Massachusetts. 25 July 2022.
    • Apparent 2nd county record.
  • Little Gull (6 adult and 2nd cycle types). La Haute-Cote-Nord County, Quebec. 28 July 2022.
  • Heermann's Gull (4th cycle). Duval County, Florida. 29 July 2022.
    • Atlantic Coast bird still undergoing 4th prebasic molt. Head pattern transitioned from white in first ten days of July to speckled gray by the end of the month (p1-p4 fully grown, p5-p6 growing, p7 dropped, p8-p10 3rd generation).
  • Slaty-backed Gull (1st cycle). St Paul Island, Alaska. 29 July 2022.
  • Black-headed Gull (2nd cycle). Queens County, New York. 30 July 2022.
    • Continuing from early June 2022.
  • Little Gull (2nd cycle). Monterey County, California. 30 July 2022.
    • Apparently same individual from Santa Cruz, May-June 2022.
  • Little Gull (4 adults; 1 juvenile). Churchill, Manitoba. 30 July 2022.
  • Laughing Gull (juvenile). LaPorte County, Indiana. 31 July 2022.


1. On 01 July 2022, Woody Goss found what appeared to be an adult California Gull on an inland rooftop in Chicago, where a small group of Herring & Ring-billed Gulls were actively nesting. Based on the views and photos available, the bird seemed to be a rather typical California Gull (upperparts a shade darker than present Herrings, dark iris, yellow legs and considerable black on the base of p8-p10). On 26 July 2022, Goss spotted an apparent adult hybrid California x Herring 2 miles away on Lake Michigan feeding a pair fledged juveniles at Fullerton Beach. This same adult was subsequently found together with the rooftop bird a couple of days later at Fullerton. This time, better views and photos were secured, and suggest both birds are likely hybrids/backcrosses. Both individuals approach California Gull more so than Herring, although the irides are not entirely dark and the orbital and gape color is a fiery orange, not crimson red. 

July 2022 Quiz


August. Maryland. 

Age: As a rule, gulls that have drab brown heads, necks and upperparts are usually in their 1st molt cycle. This individual is dressed in juvenile plumage, also known as the 1st basic plumage. The primary tips are pointed, with outermost primaries not yet fully grown (hence the short wing projection past the tail). Several inner median coverts have been dropped in what should be considered the beginning stages of the first partial molt.

Identification: The combination of brown head and neck, scaly upperparts, white undertail coverts and vent region help move us away from any of the large four-cycle gulls. This is a so-called "hooded" species. The longish bill, full throughout its length, with moderate depth to the tip points away from smaller tern-like species (i.e., Bonaparte's, Little and Sabine's Gull). The only valid contenders are Laughing and Franklin's Gull. Even in fresh juvenile plumage, Franklin's averages less brown on the nape and foreneck with bolder eye crescents. Overall, Franklin's has a quasi-hood (much more a "mask") on the face. The bill averages thinner and shorter on Franklin's, and the body and head appear more compact. Our August quiz, as perhaps already given away by location, is a juvenile Laughing Gull. 

Laughing Gull has what are believed to be 2 partial molts in its 1st molt cycle (a preformative molt and a prealternate molt). Body feathers replaced around this time of year are a result of the preformative molt. In winter and early spring, many Laughing Gulls replace some of these body feathers and upperparts a 2nd time via a 1st prealternate molt. 

01 July 2022

June 2022 Monthly Notables


  • Sabine's Gull (adult). Beaverhead County, Montana. 01 June 2022.
  • Franklin's Gull (adult). Kent County, New Brunswick. 02 June 2022.
  • Ring-billed Gull (adult). Yukon County, Yukon. 02 June 2022.
  • Ross's Gull (adult). North Slope County, Alaska. 02 June 2022*.
  • Kamchatka Gull (1st cycle). Aleutians West County, Alaska. 02 June 2022.
    • Continuing from late May 2022.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (3 adult types). Baffin County, Nunavut. 04 June 2022*.
  • Ivory Gull (adult). Minganie County, Quebec. 05 June 2022.
  • California Gull (adult). Lake County, Ohio. 05 June 2022.
    • Small, dark individual, suggesting nominate californicus.
  • Laughing Gull (adult). Del Norte County, California. 07 June 2022. 
  • Black-headed Gull (1st cycle). Queens County, New York. 07 June 2022.
  • Thayer's Gull (1st cycle). Gambell, Alaska. 08 June 2022.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult & 4th cycle). Inuvik County, Northwest Territories. 10 June 2022.
  • Heermann's Gull (4th cycle). Beaufort County, South Carolina. 11 June 2022. 
    • Atlantic Coast bird now undergoing its 4th prebasic molt (p1-p2 growing, p3 dropped).
  • Black-headed Gull (2nd cycle). Sheboygan County, Wisconsin. 12 June 2022.
  • Thayer's Gull (2nd cycle). Lincoln County, Oregon. 12 June 2022.
    • Latest Spring record, and only 2nd for June. Start of 2nd prebasic molt.
  • Laughing Gull (adult). Churchill & Northern Manitoba County, Manitoba. 19 June 2022.
  • Short-billed Gull (adult). Churchill & Northern Manitoba County, Manitoba. 19 June 2022.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (2nd cycle). Beaverhead County, Montana. 19 June 2022.
    • 1st Summer record.
  • California Gull (4th cycle). Sangamon County, Illinois. 19 June 2022.
    • Likely a returning bird, undergoing 4th prebasic molt.
  • Red-legged Kittiwake (2 adults). Aleutians West County, Alaska. 21 June 2022.
  • Little Gull (1st cycle). Santa Cruz County, California. 22 June 2022.
    • Continuing from previous month. Still will all juvenile flight feathers.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (5 - 2nd cycles). Jefferson County, Louisiana. 24 June 2022. 
  • Little Gull (9 adults). Churchill & Northern Manitoba County, Manitoba. 24 June 2022*.
  • Ross's Gull (1st cycle). North Slope County, Alaska. 25 June 2022.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult & 2nd cycle). Utqiagvik, Alaska. 27 June 2022.
  • Glaucous-winged Gull (2nd cycle). Utqiagvik, Alaska. 27 June 2022.
  • Little Gull (3rd cycle). Arnold's Cove, Newfoundland. 29 June 2022.


1) The adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls reported in Iqaluit, Nunavut is part of a growing trend from the last three breeding seasons (2020-2022). Whether these are migrants stopping over, nonbreeding loafers, or birds "possibly" attempting to breed locally remains to be seen. A maximum of 6 were reported on 02 June 2022.

2) At least 9 adult Little Gulls were reported in Churchill, Manitoba throughout the month, suggesting they may be back breeding at this historic stronghold. 

3) Late winter conditions in Utqiagvik this year helped reel in at least 2 Ross's Gulls (ad. & 1st C). The species has become rare here in spring/summer in recent years due to increased ice melt. 

30 June 2022

June 2022 Quiz


May. Wisconsin.

This is a three-cycle hooded gull. The thick white eye crescents, and broad white trailing edge quite readily limit our choices to Franklin's Gull or Laughing Gull. 

The identification of this individual is critically dependent on correct aging criteria. Note the thin black shaft streaks on the primary coverts and on p6-p8. Also, there is white freckling on the chin, cheeks and around the base of the bill (difficult to see here, but quite noticeable in the field. click on image to enlarge). The bill color is dark and drab for May. All of these features point to a subadult type, despite the adult-like gray upperparts and unmarked tail. In fact, the central tail feathers show a distinctive gray wash, and this is a big pro-Franklin's feature. 

Also, consider the first mid-primary (p6) with complete black subterminal band, and note the white tongue tip that acts as a partition between the gray portion of the feathers and black band. In Laughing Gull, the pattern is solid gray adjacent to solid black, with no white tongue tip. Finally, notice the large gray base to the outer web of p8. Laughing Gull generally has black come up to the primary coverts here. A fleeting look at a bird in flight with such limited black here should immediately elicit thoughts of Franklin's.

Our May Quiz bird is a 1st alternate type Franklin's Gull.

01 June 2022

May 2022 Monthly Notables


  • Heermann's Gull (1st cycle). Baltimore County, Maryland. 05 May 2022.
    • Continuing from April 2022.
  • Yellow-footed Gull (1st cycle). Clark County, Nevada. 05 May 2022.
    • Continuing from April 2022.
  • Thayer's Gull (1st cycle). Bernalillo County, New Mexico. 05 May 2022.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (1st cycle). Missoula County, Montana. 05 May 2022.
  • Laughing Gull (2nd cycle). Bent County, Colorado. 06 May 2022.
  • Ivory Gull (21 adults). Nome County, Alaska. 08 May 2022.
  • Black-headed Gull (1st cycle). Carteret County, North Carolina. 08 May 2022.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Sitka County, Alaska. 10 May 2022.
  • Laughing Gull (2nd cycle). Cochise County, Arizona. 11 May 2022.
  • Short-billed Gull (adult). Fort McMurray County, Alberta. 11 May 2022.
  • Sabine's Gull (adult type). Dare County, North Carolina. 13 May 2022.
  • Little Gull (1st cycle). Marin County, California. 14 May 2022.
  • Little Gull (1st cycle). Deschutes County, Oregon. 17 May 2022. 
  • Thayer's Gull (1st cycle). Fremont County, Wyoming. 17 May 2022.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (1st cycle). Pinellas County, Florida. 18 May 2022.
    • First detected in April, captured, rehabbed and released.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (3rd cycle). Los Angeles County, California. 19 May 2022.
    • Likely the Monterey County bird from late April 2022.
  • Ross's Gull (adult). Del Norte County, California. 20 May 2022.
    • 4th State Record, pending acceptance. 
  • Heermann's Gull (3rd cycle). Dare County, North Carolina. 20 May 2022.
  • California Gull (3rd cycle). Ozaukee County, Wisconsin. 21 May 2022.
  • Little Gull (1st cycle). Santa Cruz County, California. 22 May 2022.
  • Franklin's Gull (adult). Androscoggin County, Maine. 23 May 2022.
  • Glaucous Gull (2nd cycle). Chatham County, Georgia. 24 May 2022.
  • Thayer's Gull (adult). Sheboygan County, Wisconsin. 27 May 2022.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (1st cycle). Racine County, Wisconsin. 28 May 2022.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (2nd cycle). Fort McMurray County, Alberta. 29 May 2022.
    • 1st County Record.

31 May 2022

May 2022 Quiz


Massachusetts. April.

Age: This appears to be a large four-year gull, with pointed primary tips, and with what appear to be 1st generation wing coverts and tertials. It is a rather straight-forward 1st cycle type.

Identification: The overall pallid upperparts here may be due entirely to fading, on what may have been a pale bird to begin with. However, the dark tail, dark primaries and tertials do not appear to have suffered much bleaching or wear. There aren't many four-year gulls in the East that we can confuse this taxon with. Lesser Black-backed is ruled out by virtue of the pale regions throughout the wing panel and the light-gray second generation scaps. The proportions are entirely wrong for Great Black-backed, which also almost never shows an all dark uppertail like this. The most obvious answer is most times the correct answer, and indeed, our May quiz bird is a 1st cycle Herring Gull. 

I was surprised by the number of people who replied with "Thayer's Iceland Gull" this month. Although the bill is somewhat slim and the head appears small and refined, this can all be found in a smaller, female type Herring. The paler upperparts are also well within range for a slightly bleached Herring. In fact, there are many 1st cycle Herrings that are much more bleached than this in April (including the flight feathers). Also, Thayer's is generally not expected here and eliminating Herring would be step one. 

01 May 2022

April 2022 Quiz

British Columbia. March

Age: This is a larger four-cycle gull. The marked tail, faintly marked primary coverts and bill pattern suggest a 3rd cycle type.

Identification: The paler pigment on the outer primaries immediately evokes thoughts of a white-winged species (e.g., Iceland and Glaucous-winged). Glaucous Gull never shows mirrors as seen on the tenth primary, never has this much contrasting pigment on the primary pattern or tail, and the bill pattern often yellow by now. This is a broad-winged bird with apparent smudged head and neck markings. The eye appears relatively small and dark, but the bill is decidedly thick, which is very typical of Glaucous-winged. A fair number of Glaucous-winged Gulls can show this delayed bill pattern into 3rd cycle and this is what our March bird was identified as. Thayer's is ruled out by the lighter gray wingtips (although perhaps not unheard of in some variants), and particularly the larger bill and small-ish eye.

3rd cycle type Glaucous-wingeds can show this contrasting pigment on the outer primaries and this is not necessarily indicative of outside influence (i.e., hybridization with Herring or Western Gull).