01 December 2021

November 2021 Monthly Notables


  • Black-legged Kittiwake (juvenile). El Paso County, Texas. 05 November 2021.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (juvenile). McLean County, North Dakota. 06 November 2021.
    • 4th State Record. 
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (adult). Calgary County, Alberta. 06 November 2021.
  • California Gull (adult). Galveston County, Texas. 09 November 2021.
  • Ross's Gull (adult). Alberni-Clayoquot District, British Columbia. 09 November 2021.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (2 1st cycles). Cook County, Illinois. 09 November 2021.
  • Great Black-backed Gull (adult). Pueblo County, Colorado. 10 November 2021.
    • Believed the same adult now back for the 28th winter!
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (1st cycle). Central Okanagan District, BC. 13 November 2021.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (juvenile). Sarasota County, Florida. 14 November 2021.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Ottawa County, Ontario. 14 November 2021.
    • Continuing 1st Ottawa County record from last month. 
  • Yellow-footed Gull (1st cycle). San Bernardino County, California. 15 November 2021.
    • September bird from Arizona, now also being seen on the other side of the river.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (2nd cycle type). Reeves County, Texas. 16 November 2021.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (4th cycle type). Escambia County, Florida. 16 November 2021.
    • 2nd State Record. 
  • Kamchataka Gull (adult). La Haute-Cote-Nord County, Quebec. 17 November 2021.
  • Yellow-footed Gull (1st cycle). Mohave County, Arizona. 19 November 2021.
    • Continuing 2nd State Record from September. 
  • California Gull (adult). Essex County, Ontario. 20 November 2021.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (3rd cycle type). Sonoma County, California. 21 November 2021. 
  • Yellow-footed Gull (1st cycle). De Baca County, New Mexico. 21 November 2021.
    • Continuing 1st State Record from September. 
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (2nd cycle). Los Angeles County, California. 22 November 2021.
  • Ross's Gull (1st cycle)*. Washington & Dakota County, Minnesota. 27 November 2021.
    • 4th State Record. 2nd County Records.
  • Ross's Gull (1st cycle). Pierce County, Wisconsin. 27 November 2021.
    • Same individual from MN. 
  • Glaucous-winged Gull (2nd cycle)*. Simcoe County, Ontario. 27 November 2021.
  • Little Gull (adult). Davis County, Utah. 28 November 2021.
  • California Gull (adult). Dare County, North Carolina. 29 November 2021.
  • Heermann's Gull (3rd cycle)*. Virginia Beach County, Virginia. 29 November 2021.
    • Continuing Atlantic Coast Bird.
  • Heermann's Gull (1st cycle)*. Hopewell County, Virginia. 29 November 2021.
    • Now molting tail and inner secondary feathers. 


 1. Benjamin Douglas found a 1st cycle Ross's Gull in Washington County, Minnesota on 27 November 2021. The bird was also seen in Dakota County, MN and across the river in Pierce County, Wisconsin, allowing many observers a two-state tick. As is often the case with these vagrant Arctic gulls, the bird started showing signs of lethargy on the 29th. It was retrieved on the morning of the 30th and expired in transit to a rehab center. 

2. Justin Peter found an apparent 2nd cycle Glaucous-winged Gull in Simcoe County, Ontario on 27 November 2021. This individual has upperparts that are slightly on the dark side, but still within range for this highly variable age group. Knowing the complexities of Glaucous-winged hybrids, Justin had the foresight to collect a "fresh" excrement sample. This would be Ontario's second record, pending review. 

3. Two lingering Heermann's Gulls were seen throughout the month in Virginia. These cooperative birds, a 1st cycle and a 3rd cycle are being seen nearly 80 miles apart. 

30 November 2021

November 2021 Quiz


January. Japan. 

Age: The mottled brown upperparts with pointed primary tips are typical of a1st cycle, large four-year gull. This crisp individual with mostly fresh uppperparts, has retained a fair number of juvenile scapulars.

Identification: There are many species that come to mind given this overall plumage aspect. The pale rump and uppertail coverts, with defined tailband, immediately call to mind an old world Herring Gull. Given the location, it makes most sense to begin with Vega Gull. Although tail patterns are highly variable in this taxon, the prominent white seen on the outer edge of the outermost tail feathers is a "classic" look expected on 1st cycle Vega. Further, the rather uniform wing panel, with greater coverts largely checkered also supports Vega. In North America, eliminating smithsoninaus would be managable with a concise set of photos, but eliminating argentatus would be more problematic given the overlap in tail patterns. It suffices to recognize such birds as being "off" for American Herring Gull.

31 October 2021

October 2021 Monthly Notables


  • Red-legged Kittiwake (adult). Aleutians West County, Alaska. 01 October 2021.
  • Yellow-footed Gull (1st cycle). San Bernardino, California. 01 October 2021.
    • Continuing AZ bird from Sept 2021, now in California.
  • Little Gull (1st cycle). Bayfield County, Wisconsin. 02 October 2021.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (adult). San Diego County, California. 02 October 2021.
    • Very likely a returning bird since at least 2017. 
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (2nd cycle). Calgary County, Alberta. 06 October 2021.
  • Laughing Gull (adult). Arapahoe County, Colorado. 07 October 2021.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Ottawa County, Ontario. 08 October 2021.
    • First Ottawa Record. Continuing through the end of the month.
  • Sabine's Gull (1st cycle). Lee County, Florida. 09 October 2021.
  • Short-billed Gull (juvenile). Johnson County, Iowa. 13 October 2021.
    • Last Iowa Record January 2012.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Benton County, Washington. 14 October 2021.
    • A returning adult missing webbing on feet.
  • Ivory Gull (juvenile). North Slope County, Alaska. 15 October 2021.
  • Little Gull (1st cycle). Broomfield County, Colorado. 16 October 2021.
  • Franklin's Gull (2nd cycle type). Kent County, Rhode Island. 16 October 2021.
    • 1st County Record. Apparent 5th State Record for RI.
  • Franklin's Gull (2nd cycle type). Cecil County, Maryland. 17 October 2021.
  • Franklin's Gull (adult). Essex County, Massachusetts. 17 October 2021.
  • Heermann's Gull (3rd cycle). Chatham County, South Carolina. 17 October 2021.
    • Continuing East Coast bird.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). King County, Washington. 19 October 2021.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (adult type). Lewis & Clark County, Montana. 20 October 2021.
  • Kumlien's Gull (adult). Central Okanagan District, British Columbia. 24 October 2021.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Lanark County, Ontario. 24 October 2021.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (adult). Central Okanagan District, BC. 25 October 2021.
  • Glaucous-winged Gull (1st cycle). Owyhee County, Idaho. 25 October 2021.
  • Glaucous-winged Gull (juvenile). Salt Lake County, Utah. 25 October 2021.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (3rd cycle). Clallam County, Washington. 26 October 2021.
  • Franklin's Gull (adult). Queen Anne's County, Maryland. 26 October 2021.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (2nd cycle). Nipissing County, Ontario. 26 October 2021.
    • 1st Record for Algonquin Provincial Park - the oldest provincial park in Canada.
  • Iceland Gull (adult). Central Okanagan District, British Columbia. 27 October 2021.
    • A white-winged adult, suggestive of nominate. 
  • Heermann's Gull (1st cycle). Hopewell County, Virginia. 27 October 2021.
    • 3rd State Record (see Notes below). 
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (juvenile). Humphreys County, Tennessee. 28 October. 2021.
    • 1st County Record.
  • California Gull (adult). Berrien County, Michigan. 29 October 2021.
  • Ross's Gull (adult - flyby). Durham County, Ontario. 29 October 2021.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (juvenile). Clermont County, Ohio. 30 October 2021.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (juvenile). Polk County, Missouri. 30 October 2021.
  • Sabine's Gull (1st cycle). Polk County, Missouri. 30 October. 2021.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (1st cycle). Pinal County, Arizona. 30 October 2021.
    • 1st County Record.


1. On 13 October 2021, Skye Christopher G. Haas reported (at least) 8 Lesser Black-backed Gulls in Marquette County, Michigan at the Dead River mouth. This constitutes an apparent high count for the species on Lake Superior.

2. The 1st cycle Yellow-footed Gull from De Baca County, New Mexico was still present as of 15 October 2021, now with nearly all 1st alternate scapulars. The 1st cycle from Arizona is also lingering, now seen on the California side of Lake Havasu.

3. The 1st cycle Heermann's Gull from Hopewell County, Virginia is likely the same bird first found 30 miles downstream of this site in mid-August 2021 (reported on iNaturalist but mostly slid under the radar). The bird has been lingering at the Hopewell City Marina for weeks, and according to fishermen, has been there since the week of June 21st. Note that this date would be unprecedented for a 1st cycle on the East Coast. A juvenile Laughing Gull can very well be what was seen in late June. Proper documentation desired. There are now 2 Heermann's Gulls on the East Coast -- this 1st cycle, and the long-staying 3rd cycle that's currently in South Carolina.

4. Three Slaty-backed Gulls reported across the state of Washington this month is noteworthy. 

October 2021 Quiz


Illinois. March.

Age: The mottled brown upperparts immediately suggest a young 1st or 2nd cycle type large gull. The obvious pointed tips to the visible primaries, juvenile-like wing panel, and apparent post-juvenile scapulars (e.g., 1st alternate), combine to make this a 1st cycle.

Identification: The checkered wing panel with white body recall one of the black-backed gulls. Lesser Black-backed tends to have less white throughout and darker outer greater coverts. This individual has broad white edges to the lower tertials, a large, heavy black bill and a plump body. All features point to a 1st cycle Great Black-backed Gull, and that's what our October Quiz bird was identified as. 


02 October 2021

Monthly Notables September 2021


  • Short-billed Gull (adult). Calgary County, Alberta. 01 September 2021.
  • Little Gull (adult). Power County, Idaho. 01 September 2021.
  • Sabine's Gull (adult). Rankin County, Mississippi. 01 September 2021.
  • Common Gull (2nd cycle). Cape Breton County, Nova Scotia. 02 September 2021.
  • Heermann's Gull (3rd cycle). Duval County, Florida. 02 September 2021. 
    • The same waif on the Atlantic coast since August 2019.
  • Sabine's Gull (juvenile). New Haven County, Connecticut. 03 September 2021.
    • 3rd State Record. 
  • Short-billed Gull (juvenile). North Battleford County, Saskatchewan. 04 September 2021.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (juvenile). New Haven County, Connecticut. 04 September 2021.
  • California Gull (2nd cycle). Lake County, Illinois. 04 September 2021.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (juvenile). Franklin County, Pennsylvania. 05 September 2021.
  • Black-headed Gull (adult). Ocean County, New Jersey. 06 September 2021.
  • Little Gull (adult). Osage County, Kansas. 07 September 2021.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (juvenile). Marion County, Indiana. 08 September 2021.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (3rd cycle). Kenai Peninsula County, Alaska. 08 September 2021.
  • Franklin's Gull (1st cycle). York County, Maine. 09 September 2021.
  • Little Gull (juvenile). Jefferson County, Illinois. 09 September 2021.
  • Little Gull (juvenile). Natrona County, Wyoming. 10 September 2021.
  • Franklin's Gull (adult). Prince William County, Virginia. 10 September 2021.
  • Yellow-footed Gull (1st cycle). De Baca County, New Mexico. 10 September 2021.
    • Apparent 1st State Record. 
  • Yellow-footed Gull (1st cycle). Mohave County, Arizona. 10 September 2021.
    • Apparent 2nd State Record.
  • Little Gull (juvenile). Natrona County, Wyoming. 10 September 2021.
    • Apparent 3rd State Record.
  • Heermann's Gull (2nd cycle). Umatilla County, Washington. 12 September 2021. 
  • Laughing Gull (2nd cycle). Onondoga County, New York. 15 September 2021.
  • Great Black-backed Gull (2nd cycle). Lyon County, Kentucky. 17 September 2021.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (juvenile). Rockingham County, Virginia. 17 September 2021.
  • Little Gull (juvenile). Barton County, Kansas. 17 September 2021. 
  • Sabine's Gull (juvenile). Rockingham County, Virginia. 17 September 2021.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (adult). Sitka County, Alaska. 18 September 2021.
  • Laughing Gull (2nd cycle). Colfax County, New Mexico. 18 September 2021.
  • Franklin's Gull (adult). Bergen County, New Jersey. 21 September 2021.
  • Sabine's Gull (juvenile). Forsyth County, Georgia. 21 September 2021.
  • Sabine's Gull (juvenile). Desha County, Arkansas. 22 September 2021.
  • California Gull (adult). Dubuque County, Iowa. 25 September 2021.
  • Little Gull (juvenile). Walla Walla County, Washington. 26 September 2021.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult type). Comox-Strathcona, British Columbia. 28 September 2021.
  • Iceland Gull (adult). Shelby County, Illinois. 28 September 2021.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (adult). San Diego County, California. 28 September 2021.
  • Heermann's Gull (3rd cycle). Beaufort County, South Carolina. 30 September 2021.
    • The same waif on the Atlantic coast since August 2019.


1. Most unusual this month is two reports of Yellow-footed Gull at inland lakes in the Southwest. Both 1st cycles, and both reported on the same day, hours apart. The birds lingered allowing many people to leisurely add this species to their AZ & NM state lists. These reports, if accepted, would be a 1st state record for New Mexico, and a 2nd state record for Arizona. The New Mexico sighting would be the easternmost occurrence for the species. 

2. Ample Sabine's Gulls were reported inland this month, with an above average occurrence of adults. Little Gulls were also reported in higher than usual numbers west of the Mississippi River.   

September 2021 Quiz


California. September. 

Age: This is a large four-cycle species. Based on the bill pattern and marked primary coverts (beneath the central greater coverts where a swath of secondaries are missing), we might be correct in assuming this is a subadult, or near adult. The outermost primaries, p8-p10, are yet to grow, as well as a substantial number of secondary feathers. Thus, this bird is completing its prebasic molt. 

Identification: The heavily marked breast with dense horizontal markings, medium gray upperparts, blocky head and relatively small, dark eye nicely match Glaucous-winged Gull. However, the dark, contrasting primaries (out to p7) suggests hybridization. Glaucous-winged Gulls on the Pacific coast of North America commonly hybridize with Herring and Western Gull in two central hybrid zones, in the Cook Inlet region and the Pacific Northwest, respectively. This individual more closely matches a hybrid with Western Gull, and that's what it was identified as (so-called Olympic Gull). 

01 September 2021

August 2021 Quiz


December. Illinois.

Age: Our quiz bird in the center of the frame appears to be an adult black-backed species, but the extensive black on the bill is excessive for an adult. An open wing may reveal subadult features on the plumage. The smaller white apicals are also atypical of adults. Such birds are best referred to as "adult type", which implies some ambiguity in age. 

Identification: Adult black-backed species can be sorted into two groups: those with yellow legs and those with pink legs. This individual appears to have intermediate leg color -- not the obvious pink seen on the two Herrings in the foreground, but also not the mustard-yellow seen on the Ring-billeds in the background. The legs do, however, have a dull yellow cast to them, which is not uncommon in adult type Lesser Black-backed Gulls. The bill pattern too is found on a good number of adult type Lessers. The size and structure seem to fit that species, and the clear iris and finer head streaking also support Lesser. It's upright posture and lowered wings give the body a rotund shape, almost recalling Slaty-backed Gull, and from a distance, such a wide tertial crescent may excite observers. But the attenuated look to the wings, leg color and extensive black on the bill all combine to make our August Quiz a relatively straightforward Lesser Black-backed Gull.