02 December 2023

November 2023 Quiz


March. Illinois.

Age: The marbled greater coverts, overall muted pattern to the upperparts, and rounded primary tips suggest a delayed 2nd cycle type. Our November bird is a four-cycle species, and the upper mantle shows some subtle, adult-like gray, which also points away from a 1st cycle.

Identification: The fairly straight and short bill, small rounded-head, low-contrast upperparts and brownish primaries with pale edging are all fairly typical of a 2nd cycle Thayer's Gull. For comparison, a 2nd cycle American Herring is in the background, showing a messier appearance with high contrast from the primaries to the tertials, and tertials to the wing coverts. Our November Quiz gull is a small, female type, Thayer's Gull. 

November 2023 Monthly Notables


  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (1st cycle & adult). Imperial County, California. 01 November 2023.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Baffin County, Nunavut. 04 November 2023.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Cochrane County, Ontario. 04 November 2023.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (1st cycle). Cook County, Illinois. 04 November 2023.
    Lesser Black-backed Gull (adult). Clallam County, Washington. 04 November 2023.
    • Presumably a returning adult, now back for a third winter.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (adult). Alameda County, California. 05 November 2023.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (adult). Calgary County, Alberta. 06 November 2023.
  • Kumlien's Gull (adult). Central Okanagan District, British Columbia. 06 November 2023.
    • Presumably a returning adult.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (1st cycle). Nueces County, Texas. 07 November 2023.
  • Ivory Gull (1st cycle). Rouyn-Noranda County, Quebec. 08 November 2023.
  • Heermann's Gull (5th cycle). Volusia County, Florida. 09 November 2023.
    • Atlantic Coast bird repositioning. 
  • Short-billed Gull (1st cycle). Hughes County, South Dakota. 09 November 2023.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (3rd cycle type). Los Angeles County, California. 10 November 2023.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (1st cycle). Horry County, South Carolina. 10 November 2023.
  • Short-billed Gull (1st cycle). Renfrew County, Ontario. 11 November 2023.
    • Continuing from October 2023. 
  • Thayer's Gull (adult). Washington County, Rhode Island. 13 November 2023.
  • Glaucous Gull (1st cycle). Yavapai County, Arizona. 13 November 2023.
    • 1st County Record.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (1st cycle). Calgary County, Alberta. 14 November 2023.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (3rd cycle type). San Diego County, California. 17 November 2023.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (1st cycle). Los Angeles County, California. 20 November 2023.
  • Little Gull (adult). Payne & Noble County, Oklahoma. 22/28 November 2023.
    • Likely the same adult serving as a 1st County Record for both Payne & Noble.
  • Glaucous-winged Gull (2nd cycle). Essex County, Ontario. 25 November 2023.
    • Glaucous-winged type, showing fairly dark primaries and tertials.
  • Black-headed Gull (adult). Chatham County, North Carolina. 25 November 2023.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (1st cycle). Payne County, Oklahoma. 25 November 2023.
  • Yellow-footed Gull (3rd cycle). Clark County, Nevada. 25 November 2023
    • Continuing from last month. Presumably a returning bird, from March 2022.
  • Gray Gull (3rd cycle type). Baldwin County, Alabama. 27 November 2023.
    • 1ST STATE RECORD*. Same individual from Walton County, FL.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Benton County, Washington. 28 November 2023.
    • Returning adult with semipalmated feet, wintering here since at least 2016.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (1st cycle). Pima County, Arizona. 28 November 2023.

View with Google Maps


*The 1st ABA Gray Gull from Walton County, Florida was last seen on 15 November 2023, but was later spotted by Don Clark from the Dauphin Island-Fort Morgan Ferry in Baldwin County, Alabama on 27 November 2023. Attempts to relocate this Albama 1st State Record were unsuccessful. Interestingly, this individual performed a similar jaunt in late September where it was relocated 40-50 miles to the west in Pensacola Beach. It would behoove observers from the Walton County, Florida region to continue searching for the Gray Gull at Dune Allen Beach.

01 November 2023

October 2023 Quiz


September. California. 

Age: The overall fresh patterned coverts, mottled head and body, black primaries and dark tail suggest a 1st cycle.

Identification: Given the location, Western, Herring and California Gull are in the running. Several features support California Gull, including the small head, fairly straight bill that is already almost completely pale in September, as well as the long wing projection. The extensive white areas to the greater coverts are unexpected in American Herring. Western Gull is ruled out by bill size and overall structure. Also note the plain post-juvenile scapulars, which are common in California Gull, but usually dark-centered in Western. 

The October Quiz bird is a relatively large (m?) 1st cycle California Gull. 

October 2023 Monthly Notables


  • Black-headed Gull (adult). Anchorage, Alaska. 03 October 2023.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (adults). Baffin County, Nunavut. 06 October 2023.
  • Little Gull (1st cycle). Otero County, New Mexico. 08 October 2023.
  • Kamchatka Gull (adult). Rimouski-Neigette County, Quebec. 09 October 2023.
  • Great Black-backed Gull (adult). Hughes County, South Dakota. 09 October 2023.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (adult). Lethbridge County, Alberta. 10 October 2023.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (adult type). Red Deer County, Alberta. 12 October 2023.
  • Common Gull (adult). Humber District-Corner Brook County, NL. 12 October 2023.
  • Thayer's Gull (adult). Pima County, Arizona. 13 October 2023.
    • 1st County Record.
  • GRAY GULL (3rd cycle type). Walton County, Florida. 18 October 2023.
    • Continuing 1st ABA record, on and off all month, completing 3rd prebasic molt. 
  • Yellow-footed Gull (3rd cycle). Clark County, Nevada. 20 October 2023.
    • Presumably a returning bird, first detected in March 2022 as a 1st cycle.
  • Glaucous Gull (1st cycle). Cape May County, New Jersey. 20 October 2023.
  • Great Black-backed Gull (adult). Galveston County, Texas. 21 October 2023.
  • Little Gull (1st cycle). Decatur County, Kansas. 22 October 2023.
    • 1st County Record.
  • Heermann's Gull (5th cycle). Duval County, Florida. 22 October 2023.
    • Present all month, now in 5th basic plumage. 
  • Laughing Gull (2nd cycle type). Pacific County, Washington. 22 October 2023.
  • California Gull (2nd cycle). Clinton County, Illinois. 23 October 2023.
  • Little Gull (adult). North Battleford County, Saskatchewan. 24 October 2023.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (1st cycle). Union County, Oregon. 25 October 2023.
    • 1st County Record.
  • Short-billed Gull (juvenile). Renfrew County, Ontario. 26 October 2023.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult type). Baffin County, Nunavut. 31 October 2023.


  • The Florida Gray Gull was reported throughout the month in Walton County, but it's obvious the bird moves to unknown locations at times where it goes unnoticed. Most secondaries are now replaced, revealing a rather broad white trailing edge consistent with 2nd/3rd basic feathers. Given the earlier images from June 2023, the most likely explanation is the bird is now in 3rd basic.  
  • Nick Ramsey reports Chandeleur Gulls (presumed hybrid Kelp x Herrings from the Chandeleur Islands off the coast of Louisiana) were present on the islands on 30 October 2023. According to Donna Dittmann, this is a departure from years past where these hybrids would leave the area after breeding. 
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull continues to expand its nonbreeding range in the interior. At Findlay Reservoir in Hancock County, Ohio, Edward Hicks recorded no less than 438 individuals, which is likely an undercount of birds arriving to roost at dusk. This serves as a new interior high count for North America, away from the Atlantic.

    The October 2023 eBird map shows an obvious incursion north, as far as southern Alberta (~ 4) and British Columbia, and as far west as Tillamook County, Oregon and Humboldt County, California on the Pacific. The number of singletons reported west of the Rockies is simply awesome. Finally, sightings from southern Baffin Island around Iqaluit have increased in the last 2-3 years, likely due to increased coverage.

01 October 2023

September 2023 Quiz


Wisconsin. May. 

Age: Our quiz bird is in the center of the frame, in flight. The full tailband and dark ulnar bar across the upperwing suggest a 1st cycle. Given the month, it would be a one-year old, but it still hasn't begun its 2nd prebasic molt as all of the primaries are still intact. 

Identification: The trailing edge to the wing is important, and helps rule out Bonaparte's & Black-headed Gull. There is a trace of dusky pigment across the trailing edge of the outer secondaries and inner primaries, which rules out Black-legged Kittiwake. Given how bold and full the ulnar bar is (for a one-year old), the small bill and dusky cap, it is safe to say that the September Quiz bird is a Little Gull. The two-toned outer primaries (dark outer webs and paler inner webs) also support this ID. 1st cycle Little Gulls show pale wing linings, unlike older individuals which are marked boldly black. The even central tail feathers and full tail band rest any worries of a Ross's Gull. All the surrounding gulls are similar-aged Bonaparte's Gulls.

September 2023 Monthly Notables


  • Swallow-tailed Gull (adult). San Mateo County, California. 01 September 2023.
    • Apparently, the same individual seen in Santa Barbara County in July 2023.
  • Franklin's Gull (adult). Middlesex County, New Jersey. 02 September 2023.
  • GRAY GULL (3rd cycle type). Walton County, Florida. 03 September 2023.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). King/Kitsap County, Washington. 09 September 2023.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (adult). Hamilton County, Ontario. 10 September 2023.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (adult). De Baca County, New Mexico. 13 September 2023.
    • Apparent 1st County Record. At least 4 sightings throughout NM this month.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (adult). Flathead County, Montana. 13 September 2023.
  • Black-headed Gull (adult). Anchorage Municipality, Alaska. 17 September 2023.
    • Continuing adult completing prebasic molt. 
  • Franklin's Gull (1st cycle). Kings County, Prince Edward Island. 19 September 2023.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (adult). Benton County, Washington. 19 September 2023.
  • Little Gull (juvenile). Humphreys County, Tennesse. 20 September 2023.
    • 1st County Record.
  • Black-headed Gull (1st cycle). Queens County, Prince Edward Island. 20 September 2023.
  • Little Gull (juvenile). Kern County, California. 22 September 2023.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (2 - 2nd cycles). Calgary County, Alberta. 23 September 2023.
  • Glaucous Gull? (2nd cycle type). Cumberland County, New Jersey. 24 September 2023.
    • Continuing individual showing ghosted pattern on outer primaries.
  • California Gull (adult). Aitkin County, Minnesota. 25 September 2023.
  • Great Black-backed Gull (1st cycle). St Louis County, Minnesota. 26 September 2023.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Kodiak Island Borough, Alaska. 27 September 2023.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (adult). Calgary County, Alberta. 27 September 2023.
  • Little Gull (adult). Keith County, Nebraska. 28 September 2023.
  • Laughing Gull (2nd cycle). Pacific County, Washington. 29 September 2023.
    • Continuing. 
  • Heermann's Gull (5th cycle). Duval County, Florida. 29 September 2023.
    • Atlantic Coast Bird. Present all month, completing 5th prebasic. 
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (196 individuals). Matagorda County, Texas. 30 September 2023.
    • Likely a high county locally.


*A tattered 1st ABA Gray Gull was found in Walton County, Florida on 03 September 2023 by Adam Pickos. The bird was associating with Laughing Gulls in and around Dune Allen Beach and continued/s to be seen through mid-day, Wednesday, 20 September 2023. After rumors of local residents having seen the bird since at least late June/early July began to circulate, photos of presumably the same gull at nearby Camp Helen State Park were shared (Marvin Bojo Friel; 05 June 2023). June photos show an individual with thin white tips to the secondaries and a grayish-white head pattern. The best explanation for the June plumage is 2nd alternate (2nd cycles averages thinner white tips to the secondaries and browner upperparts and outer primaries than adults). Between early June and early September, the tips to the secondaries became so worn, presumably, such that most traces of white were erased, now giving the impression of an individual undergoing its 2nd prebasic molt, especially given its transformed basic head pattern. The June photos, coupled with new flight feathers growing in September suggest the bird was actually undergoing its 3rd prebasic molt (and hence a 3rd cycle). At the conclusion of its current prebasic molt, this individual should be virtually indistinguishable from an adult, and in fact would simply be labeled an adult. After going missing for a couple of days, it was relocated about 40 miles to the west in the Pensecola Beach region on both 24-25 September 2023. It then returned to its original location at Dune Allen Beach on 29-30 September 2023.

Relevant to this month's highlight, Liam Ragan found Mexico's 3rd Gray Gull (alternate adult) at the mouth of the San Isidro River in Oaxaca on 18 September 2023. Mexico's records are all very recent at two-year intervals, from 2019, 2021 and 2023, with the most recent sighting serving as the westernmost record. These recent sightings, including the 1st Galapagos record from July 2023, support the hypothesis that extralimital reports of Gray Gull correlate with strong El Nino years. 

02 September 2023

August 2023 Monthly Notables


  • Black-headed Gull (2nd cycle). Kent County, Delaware. 02 August 2023.
  • Franklin's Gull (adult). Bristol County, Massachusetts. 05 August 2023.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (adult). Hillsborough County, New Hampshire. 10 August 2023.
  • Short-billed Gull (adult). Calgary County, Alberta. 11 August 2023.
    • Presumably returning individual since 2020.
  • Heermann's Gull (1st cycle). Sitka City & Borough, Alaska. 10 August 2023.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (3rd cycle). Clark County, Nevada. 11 August 2023.
  • California Gull (juvenile). Wagoner County, Oklahoma. 14 August 2023.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Anchorage, Alaska. 14 August 2023.
    • Continuing. 
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (apparent juvenile). Hamilton County, Ontario. 15 August 2023.
  • Laughing Gull (juvenile). Lancaster County, Nebraska. 19 August 2023.
  • Little Gull (2 - juveniles). Lake County, Indiana. 24 August 2023.
  • Franklin's Gull (adult). Anne Arundel County, Maryland. 24 August 2023.
  • Franklin's Gull (1st cycle). Fairfax County, Virginia. 24 August 2023.
  • Glaucous Gull (2nd cycle type). Cumberland County, New Jersey. 25 August 2023.
  • Little Gull (juvenile). Columbia-Shuswap District, British Columbia. 26 August 2023.
  • Heermann's Gull (5th cycle). Duval County, Florida. 26 August 2023.
    • Atlantic Coast Bird.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (adult). Grays Harbor, Washington. 27 August 2023.
  • Laughing Gull (2nd cycle). Pacific County, Washington. 28 August 2023.