01 February 2024

January 2024 Quiz


January. Oregon.
Age: This large white-headed gull shows an overall adult aspect, but with noticeable tail markings, brownish-gray wash across the upperwing, streaked primary coverts and an all-dark bill tip, suggesting a 3rd cycle type.

Identification: This is a broad-winged bird with a fairly short hand. The robust bill and large powerful body point to a bulky taxon, ruling out smaller and slimmer taxa found in the West. Given the location, Western and Glaucous-winged Gull should come to mind. The gray upperparts seem too dark for Glaucous-winged, but may fit a paler northern occidentalis Western. However, the outer primaries show a distinctive grayish coloration, and not the jet black expected in Western. This wingtip pattern and color fits perfectly for a Western x Glaucous-winged hybrid, however, and that's what our January Quiz bird was identified as in the field.  

January 2024 Monthly Notables


  • Common Gull (adult)1. Windham County, Connecticut. 01 January 2024.
    • Presumably a returning bird from last winter.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (adult). Duval County, Florida. 01 January 2024.
    • Continuing from Dec 2023.
  • Franklin's Gull (1st cycle). Marion County, Oregon. 01 January 2024.
    • Continuing from Dec 2023.
  • Short-billed Gull (adult)1. Fairfield County, Connecticut. 04 January 2024.
    • Presumably a returning bird first detected last winter. 
  • Laughing Gull (1st cycle). Hughes County, South Dakota. 05 January 2024.
  • Vega Gull (adult). San Mateo County, California. 05 January 2024.
    • Presumably a returning bird for the fourth consecutive winter.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Sudbury County, Ontario. 05 January 2024.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (4th cycle type). Del Norte County, California. 05 January 2024.
  • Franklin's Gull (1st cycle). Horray County, South Carolina. 07 January 2024.
  • Short-billed Gull (1st cycle). Scott County, Iowa. 06 January 2024.
  • Short-billed Gull (1st cycle). Rock Island County, Illinois. 08 January 2024.
    • Same individual from Scott County, Iowa.
  • Common Gull (adult)4. Prince Edward County, Ontario. 08 January 2024.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Benton County, Washington. 09 January 2024.
    • Continuing. 
  • Kumlien's Gull (adult). King County, Washington. 09 January 2024.
  • Little Gull (1st cycle & two ad.). Washington County, Rhode Island. 10-15 January 2024.
  • Little Gull (adult). Monmouth County, New Jersey. 10 January 2024.
  • Black-headed Gull (ad & two 1st cycle). Washington County, Rhode Island. 12 January 2024.
  • Franklin's Gull (adult). St. Louis County, Minnesota. 12 January 2024.
  • Common Gull (adult)4. Lambton County, Ontario. 13 January 2024.
    • Sight record. Reported nominate canus
  • Short-billed Gull (1st cycle). Washoe County, Nevada. 14 January 2024.
  • Kamchatka Gull (adult). Nantucket County, Massachusetts. 18 January 2024.
    • Continuing. 
  • Glaucous-winged Gull (3rd cycle)2. Orange County, New York. 20 January 2024.
    • 2nd State Record*. 
  • Black-headed Gull (ad. & two 1st cycle). Nassau County, New York. 05-19 January 2024.
  • Short-billed Gull (2nd cycle). Chaves County, New Mexico. 20 January 2024.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Toronto County, Ontario. 21 January 2024.
  • Glaucous-winged Gull (adult). Lake County, Illinois. 22 January 2024.
  • Franklin's Gull (adult). Del Norte County, California. 23 January 2024.
  • Black-headed Gull (adult). Lexington County, South Carolina. 25 January 2024.
  • California Gull (adult). Will County, Illinois. 27 January 2024.
  • Heermann's Gull (5th cycle/ad.). Volusia County, Florida. 23 January 2024.
    • Continuing Atlantic Coast bird.
  • Yellow-footed Gull (3rd cycle). Clark County, Nevada. 24 January 2024.
    • Continuing. 
  • Kamchatka Gull (adult). Essex County, Massachusetts. 26 January 2024.
    • An individual with 13 primaries on the right wing.
  • Short-billed Gull (1st cycle). Mohave County, Arizona. 27 January 2024.
  • Thayer's Gull (3 ads.)5. Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia. 29 January 2024.
  • Short-billed Gull (1st cycle). Madison County, Illinois. 29 January 2024.
  • Short-billed Gull (1st cycle). St. Charles County, Missouri. 30 January 2024.
    • 3rd State Record. Same individual from Madison County, Illinois.
  • Kamchatka Gull (adult)1. Fairfield County, Connecticut. 30 January 2024.
    • Continuing. 
  • Yellow-footed Gull (1st cycle). Randall County, Texas. 30 January 2024.
    • Continuing 1st State Record. 
  • Great Black-backed Gull (1st cycle). North Okanagan District, B.C. 30 January 2024.
    • Continuing from last month.


1. Connecticut saw another trifecta of adult Common, Kamchatka and Short-billed Gull this month, with all 3 individuals believed to be returning from at least last winter (2022-2023).

2.The 3rd cycle Glaucous-winged Gull found in Orange County, NY may very well be a returning individual from March 2023 (then a 2nd cycle; Bronx County, NY). Bill structure, overall build and age sequence makes this a very likely scenario. These two would constitute 1st and 2nd state records, consecutively, if accepted.

3. January saw an above average "smattering" of Black-headed Gull sightings dotted throughout the Atlantic coast, from New Hampshire down to South Carolina. 

4. Two Common Gulls from Ontario (presumably nominate canus) is noteworthy. 

5. Thanks to the efforts of Alix d'Entremont, southwest Nova Scotia is now consistently recording Thayer's Gulls. Albeit in small numbers, this becomes the farthest east that the taxon can be expected annually now, which begs the question, might there be more throughout the Atlantic Provinces. 

6. Finally, the frequency of Lesser Black-backed Gull reports throughout the interior has become overwhelmingly high. Moving forward, Monthly Notable mentions will be limited to high counts and/or early/late records.

31 December 2023

December 2023 Monthly Notables


  • Yellow-footed Gull (3rd cycle/ad type). Clark County, Nevada. 01 December 2023.
    • Continuing. Presumably a returning bird, from March 2022.
  • Sabine's Gull (2 ad; 1st cycle). Lincoln County, Oregon. 02 December 2023.
  • Gray Gull (3rd cycle). Walton County, Florida. 05 December 2023.
    • 1st ABA-record individual back after a 20-day absence.
  • Great Black-backed Gull (1st cycle). Okanagan-Similkameen District, British Columbia. 06 December 2023.
    • 3rd Province Record. 
  • Great Black-backed Gull (adult). Pueblo County, Colorado. 08 December 2023.
    • Presumably the same individual, now back for the 30th winter! Yes, "thirty".
  • Laughing Gull (1st cycle). Durham County, Ontario. 09 December
  • Little Gull (adult). Los Angeles County, California. 10 December 2023.
    • Last county sighting ~20 years ago. 
  • Black-headed Gull (adult). Montgomery County, Maryland. 10 December 2023.
    • 1st County Record.
  • Yellow-footed Gull (1st cycle). Randall County, Texas. 11 December 2023.
  • Heermann's Gull (5th cycle). Volusia County, Florida. 12 December 2023.
    • Continuing Atlantic Coast bird.
  • Great Black-backed Gull (3rd cycle type). Ellsworth County, Kansas. 12 December 2023.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Elkhart County, Indiana. 14 December 2023.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (2nd cycle). Sunshine Coast District, British Columbia. 17 December 2023.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (1st cycle). Washoe County, Nevada. 21 December 2023.
  • California Gull (adult). Lee County, Iowa. 21 December 2023.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult type). Contra Costa County, California. 21 December 2023.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Middlesex County, Ontario. 22 December 2023.
  • Laughing Gull (1st cycle). Santa Cruz County, California. 25 December 2023.
  • Kamchatka Gull (adult). Fairfield County, Connecticut. 27 December 2023.
    • Presumably a returning bird since at least 2019.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Benton County, Washington. 26 December 2023.
    • Continuing.
  • Black-headed Gull (adult). Santa Cruz County, California. 27 December 2023.
    • 1st County Record.


1. Janice Tidwell Allen reported a Yellow-footed Gull (1st cycle) in Amarillo, Texas on 11 December 2023. This 1st state record was apparently present as early as 05 November 2023, but was overlooked and reported as a Herring Gull by some. This now constitutes the easternmost record for the species.

December 2023 Quiz


Age: A straight-forward 1st cycle large gull.

Identification: Our December Quiz is not trivial, especially out of context. Would it help if you knew it was photographed in England, in December? Of course!

The most noticeable feature on this individual is the pale tail base with whitish ground color. The fairly narrow tailband, thin horizontal barring on the post-juvenile scapulars, barred greater coverts and dark tips to the outer webs of the inner primaries all support European Herring Gull. Yellow-legged Gull averages darker inner primaries without this prominent window effect. Great Black-backed averages a more peppered blackish look to the upperparts, but variable. The smaller head and relatively thin bill also point away from Great Black-backed, which surprisingly, was the most popular response this month. 

A relevant question to ask is how would 1st cycle Vega Gull be ruled out? Out of range, it would present quite the challenge for even the most seasoned gull-watcher. That species averages more barring on the outer greater coverts, more intricately patterned proximal region to the tail band, more barring on the base of the outermost tail feather, and if visible, warmer brown underwing and underparts. Given the great variability in these 1st cycle taxa, it goes without saying that in North America, many won't be safely identified. 

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.