01 February 2023

January 2023 Monthly Notables


  • Glaucous-winged Gull (3rd cycle). Cuyahoga County, Ohio. 01 January 2023.
  • Common Gull (adult). Cuyahoga County, Ohio. 02 January 2023.
    • Continuing 1st State Record from December 2022. Intermediate henei/kamtschatschensis
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Cuyahoga County, Ohio. 05 January 2023.
    • 3rd State Record. Apparently one of the adults from Muskegon, MI from November 2022.
  • Heermann's Gull (4th cycle). Charleston County, South Carolina. 05 January 2023.
    • Atlantic coast bird now in 4th alternate.
  • Common Gull (adult). Essex County, Massachusetts. 07 January 2023.
    • Returning adult banded as pullus in Iceland, June 2013 (10th cycle now).
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Clinton County, New York. 11 January 2023.
    • 1st County Record.
  • Glaucous-winged Gull (1st cycle). Pueblo County, Colorado. 12 January 2023.
  • Vega Gull (adult). San Mateo County, California. 14 January 2023.
    • Presumably a returning adult since at least 2021.
  • Heermann's Gull (4th cycle). Volusia County, Florida. 14 January 2023.
    • Atlantic coast bird now in 4th alternate.
  • Franklin's Gull (1st cycle). Antigonish County, Nova Scotia. 16 January 2023.
  • Common Gull (adult). Tolland County, Connecticut. 17 January 2023.
    • 1st County Record. Nominate canus.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Elkhart County, Indiana. 18 January 2023.
  • Common Gull (adult). Bristol County, Rhode Island. 18 January 2023.
    • 3rd State Record.
  • Short-billed Gull (adult). New York County, New York. 19 January 2023.
    • Continuing 1st county record bird from December 2022.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Benton County, Washington. 20 January 2023.
    • Returning adult. 
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Oklahoma County, Oklahoma. 21 January 2023.
  • Kamchatka Gull (adult). Fairfield County, Connecticut. 25 January 2023.
    • Presumably a returning adult. 
  • Common Gull (adult). Essex County, Massachusetts. 28 January 2023.
    • An unbanded individual observed independently of the 07 January bird.
  • Heermann's Gull (2nd cycle). Baltimore County, Maryland. 29 January 2023.
    • Continuing, 1st state record bird from March 2022.
  • Short-billed Gull (adult). Fairfield County, Connecticut. 30 January 2023.
    • Apparently the New York County bird, seen with "the" Kamchatka Gull.

  • As of January 2023, Slaty-backed Gull is no longer a review species in California. Its removal from the review list also includes 1st cycles. 

31 January 2023

January 2023 Quiz

Florida. January.

Age:  A multi-bird quiz. Let's call these front, center and back. The center bird (facing right) seems to be the simplest -- an adult type hooded gull. The front bird is a smaller individual, but a member of the large white-headed gulls and should be a 1st cycle. The bird in the back is also a large white-headed gull, but clearly larger and suggests 2nd cycle. Why are these two white-headed gulls one cycle apart, given that they look somewhat similar? Three-cycle species mature faster, of course. Another way to say this is four-cycle species mature slowly.

Identification: Beginning with the center gull, the somewhat long and droopy black bill, medium gray upperparts, and much black in the wingtip, look spot on for Laughing. The smaller individual in the front has a small bill with pink base. The post-juvenile scapulars (1st alternate) are light gray. The size, in comparison to the Laughing Gull makes this a fairly safe 1st cycle Ring-billed. Ring-billeds often have messier wing coverts at this age, especially this late in the season, but some maintain plain coverts and dark tertials. The 2nd cycle in the back has kept much black on the bill and has obvious slate gray scapulars (2nd alternate). The body size and bill size seem to eliminate Great Black-backed. The only other expected dark-backed (so-called black-backed) species in Florida is Lesser Black-backed, which this is. 2nd cycle Lesser Black-backeds are highly variable. This one looks rather docile and still shows a largely dark eye. 

01 January 2023

December 2022 Monthly Notables


  • California Gull (adult). Jefferson County, Wisconsin. 01 December 2022.
  • California Gull (adult). Butler County, Pennsylvania. 03 December 2022.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (juvenile). Clark County, Nevada. 03 December 2022. 
  • Short-billed Gull (1st cycle). Coffey County, Kansas. 03 December 2022.
  • Kumlien's Gull (adult). Benton County, Oregon. 04 December 2022.
  • Laughing Gull (1st cycle). Humboldt County, California. 04 December 2022.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Dane County, Wisconsin. 05 December 2022.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Franklin County, Washington. 06 December 2022.
  • Thayer's Gull (2nd cycle). Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia. 09 December 2022.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (adult). Eddy County, New Mexico. 09 December 2022.
  • Vega Gull (adult). Wayne County, Michigan. 10 December 2022.
    • 1ST STATE RECORD, pending acceptance.
    • P10 large mirror, P9 no mirror, moderate tongue tips P5-P7. Small mark on outer web of P4.
    • P9-P10 retained, P8 dropped, P7 80% grown. A few outer and inner secondaries growing. 
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Barnstable County, Massachusetts. 11 December 2022.
    • 3rd County Record. 
  • Little Gull (1st cycle). Palm Beach County, Florida. 13 December 2022.
  • California Gull (adult). Cuyahoga County, Ohio. 13 December 2022.
  • Little Gull (adult). Lake County, Tennessee. 16 December 2022.
  • Ivory Gull (1st cycle). Llyodminister County, Saskatchewan. 16 December 2022.
    • 3rd Provincial Record. 
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (juvenile). Yell County, Arkansas. 16 December 2022.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Contra Costa County, California. 16 December 2022.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (juvenile). Payne County, Oklahoma. 17 December 2022.
  • Thayer's Gull (1st cycle). Bucks County, Pennsylvania. 17 December 2022.
  • Franklin's Gull (adult). Lincoln County, Oregon. 18 December 2022.
  • Yellow-footed Gull (adult). Santa Cruz County, California. 17 December 2022.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (4 - 2 ad./2 juves). Grant County, Wisconsin.18 December 2022.
    • Apparent Mississippi River high count.
  • Heermann's Gull (2nd cycle). Baltimore County, Baltimore. 18 December 2022.
    • Continuing. 
  • California Gull (adult). Elkhart County, Indiana. 19 December 2022.
  • California Gull (adult). Seneca County, New York. 21 December 2022.
  • Short-billed Gull (adult). New York County, New York. 23 December 2022.
    • 1st County Record.
  • Heermann's Gull (4th cycle). Volusia County, Florida. 23 December 2022.
    • Atlantic Coast bird, now undergoing 4th prealternate molt (white head).
  • Sabine's Gull (1st cycle). Washington County, Rhode Island. 24 December 2022.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Wayne County, Michigan. 26 December 2022.
  • Kumlien's Gull (1st cycle). Santa Clara County, California. 26 December 2022.
  • Short-billed Gull (adult). Yell County, Arkansas. 29 December 2022.
  • Common Gull (adult)*. Cuyahoga County, Ohio. 30 December 2022.
1. On 10 December 2022, Andy Dettling found an adult Vega Gull in Wayne County, Michigan. This individual displayed all the field marks needed for this taxon, and would constitute a state first pending acceptance. Vega Gull is treated as a subspecies of Herring Gull by the AOS, but many bodies have now elevated it to species status.

 2. On 30 December 2022. Todd Eiben found an adult Common Gull in Cuyahoga County, Ohio. This individual shows intermediate features that are most consistent with Kamchatka Gull (L canus kamtschatschensis), albeit on the smaller end of the curve. The wingtip pattern is most interesting with a mix of features that combine canus, heinei and kamtschatschensis. It is doubtful that this bird will be confidently identified to subspecies.

31 December 2022

December 2022 Quiz


Illinois. November.

Age: The nondescript brown plumage gives every indication of a 1st cycle large gull. In fact, all scapulars, upperwing coverts and tertials are juvenile (1st basic).

Identification: An interesting combination of uniform brown upperparts with neat pale edging throughout can match a number of species in November. But not many combine smooth brown neck, breast and sides, with paling bill. This individual superficially recalls Lesser Black-backed Gull, but that taxon generally lacks a pale bill base at this date, seldom shows pale tips on the primaries and has paler underparts. Our November quiz bird is "just" an American Herring in crisp juvenile plumage. 

01 December 2022

November 2022 Monthly Notables


  • Black-legged Kittiwake (adult). Sherman County, Oregon. 01 November 2022.
  • Great Black-backed Gull (adult). Pueblo County, Colorado. 06 November 2022.
    • Presumably returning individual for the 29th winter.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (1st cycle). Scotts Bluff County, Nebraska. 06 November 2022.
    • Found in Kimball County on 08 November 2022.
  • Little Gull (adult). Grant County, Washington. 07 November 2022.
  • California Gull (1st cycle). St. Lucie County, Florida. 08 November 2022.
  • Kumlien's Gull (1st cycle). Nanaimo District, British Columbia. 10 November 2022.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (1st cycle). Marshall County, Alabama. 11 November 2022.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Benton County, Washington. 16 November 2022.
    • Returning individual since at least 2016.
  • Little Gull (adult). Hughes County, South Dakota. 17 November 2022.
  • Great Black-backed Gull (adult). Stanley County, South Dakota. 18 November 2022.
  • Glaucous Gull (1st cycle). Washington County, Utah. 19 November 2022.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (2 adults)*. Muskegon County, Michigan. 21 November 2022.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Thompson-Nicola District, British Columbia. 21 November 2022.
  • Black-headed Gull (adult). Cuyahoga County, Ohio. 25 November 2022.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (1st cycle). McCormick County, South Carolina. 25 November 2022.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (1st cycle). Lincoln County, Georgia. 25 November 2022.
    • Same individuals from SC.
  • Heermann's Gull (4th cycle). Volusia County, Florida. 29 November 2022.
    • Atlantic Coast bird present since August 2019, now in 4th basic plumage.
  • Heermann's Gull (2nd cycle). Baltimore County, Maryland. 20 November 2022.
    • Continuing bird, presumably the returning 1st State Record individual from March 2022.


  1. Perhaps most interesting this month is what proved to be 2 different adult Slaty-backed Gulls at the Muskegon Wastewater Treatment Plant in Muskegon, Michigan. While observers sensed there was something not quite right about the movement of black-backed gulls they were seeing in the area, no one explicitly picked up on two different birds in the field. It was Liam Singh who keenly discovered this multiplicity while reviewing photos on eBird. Differences in wingtip pattern and head pattern leave no doubt. This is the first time more than one Slaty-backed Gull has been present at the same site in the interior, and perhaps for all of the lower 48.

November 2022 Quiz


February. Indiana.

Age: A large gull with black upperparts immediately narrows down our options to a four-cycle species. Given the adult-like white tips to the flight feathers, with brown markings on the underwing coverts and marked tail, we can be sure this isn't an adult, and best fits a 3rd cycle type.

Identification: Black-backed adults in North America can be approached by leg color, size/structure and wingtip pattern. The massive bill and head, all white tip to p10 (left wing) and pinkish legs point directly to Great Black-backed. Lesser Black-backed is ruled out by overall structure and wingtip pattern (note, some Lessers can show fleshy legs at this age). Western (and Yellow-footed) is ruled out by the white tip to p10. Slaty-backed Gull doesn't typically show this massive bill with large blocky head, and should have broader white tips to the trailing edge. Our November Quiz bird is indeed a 3rd cycle type Great Black-backed.

01 November 2022

October 2022 Monthly Notables

  • California Gull (adult). Calvert County, Maryland. 01 October 2022.
  • California Gull (2nd cycle). Clinton County, Illinois. 01 October 2022.
  • Heermann's Gull (2nd cycle). Baltimore County, Maryland. 02 October 2022.
    • Continuing.
  • Yellow-footed Gull (2nd cycle). Mohave County, Arizona. 05 October 2022.
    • 3rd State Record. Likely the same individual from Lake Mead (NV) last month.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (adult). Lincoln County, Oregon. 06 October 2022.
  • Great Black-backed Gull (adult). Keith County, Nebraska. 06 October 2022.
  • Ivory Gull (juvenile). North Slope County, Alaska. 10 October 2022.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gulls (3 juveniles). San Miguel County, New Mexico. 11 October 2022.
    • Apparent state high count for this date.
  • Black-headed Gull (ad. & 1st cycle). Queens County, New York. 12 October 2022.
    • Continuing adult joined by a newly arrived 1st cycle.
  • Franklin's Gulls (203 - various ages). Hancock County, Mississippi. 13 October 2022.
    • Apparent high count for coastal MS.
  • Little Gull (adult). Metro Vancouver District, British Columbia. 14 October 2022.
  • Glaucous-winged Gull (1st cycle). Elko County, Nevada. 14 October 2022.
  • Heermann's Gull (4th cycle). Volusia County, Florida. 16 October 2022.
    • Continuing "Atlantic" Coast bird, now in 4th basic plumage.
  • Franklin's Gull (2nd cycle type). Chatham County, North Carolina. 17 October 2022.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Benton County, Washington. 18 October 2022.
    • Returning bird since at least 2016.
  • Black-headed Gull (adult). New Haven County, Connecticut. 19 October 2022.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (3rd cycle). Saskatoon County, Saskatchewan. 20 October 2022.
  • Sabine's Gull (juvenile). Kewaunee County, Wisconsin. 25 October 2022.
  • Swallow-tailed Gull (adult). San Diego County, California. 25 October 2022.
    • 4th State Record.
  • Kumlien's Gull (adult). Central Okanagen District. British Columbia. 26 October 2022.
  • Ross's Gull (1st cycle). Capital District, British Columbia. 27 October 2022.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (adult). Clallam County, Washington. 28 October 2022.
    • Presumably a returning individual for the 2nd year.
  • Ross's Gull (1st cycle). Bruce County, Ontario. 30 October 2022.
    • Photos strongly suggest this species, although remains unconfirmed.
1. Approximately 10,000 Black-legged Kittiwakes were recorded migrating west from Point Barrow on 11 October 2022. These numbers are not typical here, to say the least. See Alex Lamoreaux's report for details. 16 juvenile Thayer's Gulls were also reported. In most years 1-2 may be reported here at the height of Fall migration.

2. A nice showing of 630 Ross's Gulls was recorded at Point Barrow on 16 October 2022.