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.

August 2023 Quiz


Oregon. January.

Age: Adult and 1st cycle.

Identification: Beginning with the adult, it has a strong, bright yellow bill. The head pattern is densely smudged, and the primaries are slate-black with distinctive pale underside to the far wing. Every thing about this bird is consistent with a hybrid Glaucous-winged x Western (so-called Olympic Gull). The primaries are too pale for Western, but too dark for Glaucous-winged. The 1st cycle, similarly, has features intermediate between both species, and was identified as a hybrid.

02 August 2023

July 2023 Quiz


July. Illinois.

Age: The well-patterned upperparts and pointed primary tips suggest a straightforward juvenile (1st basic plumage).

Identification: Surprisingly, a number of answers this month went with California Gull, which is a very fair guess. It's doubtful that California Gull can show this much white on the primary tips, although juvenile Ring-billeds regularly do. It's difficult to appreciate size in this single still, especially with no other birds in the frame. But this was a fairly small individual feeding around other small Ring-billeds. Given the location and time of year, juvenile Ring-billed it is.

July 2023 Monthly Notables


  • Heermann's Gull (5th cycle). Carteret County, North Carolina. 01 July 2023.
    • Atlantic Coast Bird
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (13 - mostly 2nd cycles). Grays Harbor County, Washington. 01 July 2023.
  • Franklin's Gull (adult). Avalon Peninsula - St John's County, NL. 03 July 2023.
  • Great Black-backed Gull (2nd cycle). Mobile County, Alabama. 03 July 2023.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (3rd cycle). Brown County, South Dakota. 05 July 2023.
  • Franklin's Gull (adult type). San Mateo County, California. 07 July 2023.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (adult type). Canyon County, Idaho. 07 July 2023. 
  • Iceland Gull (2nd cycle kumlieni type). Barnstable County, Massachusetts. 13 July 2023.
  • Western Gull (adult). Park County, Colorado. 14 July 2023.
  • Heermann's Gull (3rd cycle). Cuyahoga County, Ohio. 15 July 2023.
    • Continuing 1st County Record.
  • Little Gull (21; ~ 75% adult). Norfolk County, Ontario. 17 July 2023.
  • Glaucous Gull (2nd cycle). Kent County, Delaware. 19 July 2023.
  • Swallow-tailed Gull (adult). Santa Barbara County, California. 19 July 2023.
    • 5th State Record.
  • Yellow-footed Gull (3rd cycle). Clark County, Nevada. 22 July 2023.
    • Presumably returning/continuing individual found here in March 2022 as a 1st cycle.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (2nd cycle). Ward County, North Dakota. 22 July 2023.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). North Slope Borough, Alaska. 23 July 2023.
    • Possibly a second bird present in this general vicinity (Prudhoe Bay).
  • Red-legged Kittiwake (adult). North Slope Borough, Alaska. 24 July 2023.
  • Black-headed Gull (adult). Barnstable County, Massachusetts. 25 July 2023.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Juneau City & Borough, Alaska. 27 July 2023.
  • Laughing Gull (adult). Pacific County, Washington. 28 July 2023.
    • Continuing. 
  • Laughing Gull (adult). Simcoe County, Ontario. 29 July 2023.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Anchorage Municipality, Alaska. 29 July 2023.
  • Heermann's Gull (5th cycle). Duval County, Florida. 31 July 2023.
    • Atlantic Coast Bird. 

01 July 2023

June 2023 Monthly Notables


  • Black-headed Gull (adult). Knox County, Maine. 02 June 2023.
  • Laughing Gull (adult). Nunatsiavut-Nain County, Newfoundland. 04 June 2023.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (adult). Niagara County, New York. 04 June 2023.
  • Little Gull (1st cycle). Douglas County, Wisconsin. 04 June 2023.
  • Little Gull (1st cycle). St. Louis County, Minnesota. 04 June 2023.
  • Ross's Gull (1st cycle). Gambell, Alaska. 04 June 2023.
  • Iceland Gull (1st cycle). Norfolk County, Virginia. 05 June 2023.
  • Franklin's Gull (adult). Le Rocher-Perce County, Quebec. 05 June 2023.
  • Ross's Gull (adult). St. Louis County, Minnesota. 06 June 2023.
    • Continued from late May 2023.
  • Franklin's Gull (1st alternate). Westmorland County, New Brunswick. 07 June 2023.
    • 1st County Record.
  • Sabine's Gull (adult). Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia. 09 June 2023.
  • Great Black-backed Gull (2nd cycle). Churchill and Northern Manitoba County, Manitoba. 10 June 2023.
  • Laughing Gull (1st cycle). Hughes County, South Dakota. 10 June 2023.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (adult). Cass County, Minnesota. 14 June 2023.
  • California Gull (3rd cycle type). Stearns County, Minnesota. 17 June 2023.
    • Same individual in Beltrami County, MN on 21 June 2023.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (adult). Ada County, Idaho. 18 June 2023.
  • Black-headed Gull (1st cycle). Kent County, Delaware. 21 June 2023.
  • Heermann's Gull (3rd cycle). Cuyahoga County, Ohio. 23 June 2023.
    • 1st County Record. 


1. The Heermann's Gull from Cuyahoga County, Ohio was missing p1 on 23 June 2023, indicating the start of the 3rd prebasic molt (and hence in its 3rd molt cycle). By 30 June 2023, it showed dropped p1-p2. It appears to be the same individual from Lorain County (April 2023), which was a late 2nd cycle then. 

2. A report of 7 Short-billed Gulls from Gambell (seawatch) on 06 June 2023 is noteworthy. 

3. A survey in early June from Breton NWR turned up at least 4-5 Chandeleur Gulls (Kelp x Herring hybrids). St Bernard Parish, Lousiana. See here for photos. Where these hybrids reside in the nonbreeding season is unknown.