30 November 2020

Monthly Notables November 2020


  • California Gull (2nd cycle). Sangamon County, Illinois. 04 November 2020.
    • Continuing from June 2020.
  • Franklin's Gull (adult type). Hancock County, Maine. 05 November 2020.
    • 1st/2nd County Record.
  • Glaucous-winged Gull (1st cycle). Lewis & Clark County, Montana. 05 November 2020.
  • Laughing Gull (1st cycle). Maricopa County, Arizona. 05 November 2020.
  • Little Gull (1st cycle). Bayfield/Ashland County, Wisconsin. 05/08 November 2020.
  • Little Gull (1st cycle). San Luis Obispo County, California. 06 November 2020.
  • Glaucous Gull (1st cycle). Deschutes County, Oregon. 07 November 2020.
    • 1st County Record. 
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (1st cycle). Kern County, California. 07 November 2020.
    • 4/5th County Record. First record locally in the Mojave Desert portion of Kern.
  • Laughing Gull (subadult). Branch County, Michigan. 07 November 2020.
    • 1st County Record. 
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (2nd cycle). Larimer/Weld County, Colorado. 11/12 November 2020.
  • Glaucous Gull (1st cycle). Owyhee County, Idaho. 11 November 2020.
  • California Gull (adult). Douglas County, Wisconsin. 14 November 2020. 
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Monterey County, California. 19 November 2020.
  • California Gull (3rd cycle). Brazoria County, Texas. 20 November 202. 
  • Heermann's Gull (2nd cycle type). Washoe County, Nevada. 20 November 2020.
  • Heermann's Gull (3rd cycle). Taylor County, Texas. 21 November 2020.
  • Heermann's Gull (2nd cycle). Volusia County, Florida. 21 November 2020.
    • Presumably the same waif that has navigated Florida's coasts since August 2019.
  • Great Black-backed Gull (adult). Pueblo County, Colorado. 22 November 2020.
    • Believed to be the same individual returning here for the 27th consecutive winter.
  • Sabine's Gull (1st cycle). Brevard County, Florida. 22 November 2020.
  • Glaucuos-winged Gull (2nd cycle). Dakota County, Minnesota. 22 November 2020.
    • 6th State Record. 2nd County Record.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult type). Ontario County, Ontario. 22 November 2020.
    • Continuing locally since September 2020.
  • Mew Gull (adult). Niagara/Brant County, Ontario. 24 November 2020.
  • Mew Gull (adult). Tarrant County, Texas. 25 November 2020.
  • Mew Gull (adult type). Hamilton County, Ontario. 26 November 2020.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Brainard Ontario. 27 November 2020.
  • Iceland Gull (1st cycle). Stark County, Ohio. 27 November 2020.
    • Apparent nominate glaucoides. 
  • California Gull (adult). Galveston County, Texas. 29 November 2020.


  • The adult Great Black-backed Gull that winters in Pueblo County, Colorado returned late this month for the 29th consecutive year. This would constitute a longevity record for the species in North America, but alas, it lives without a leg band. The official longevity record of a known-age Great Black-backed Gull in North America is 26 years 9 months.

November 2020 Quiz


Indiana. May.

AgeA large four-year gull with two generations of primaries showing. Primary replacement well underway. The 5 inner primaries are new, 2nd generation feathers, and thus this individual is in its 2nd molt cycle. All secondaries are 1st basic.

Identification: Overall the head, body and uppertail are very white for a four-year gull in early 2nd cycle. The thin tailband and overall peppered plumage aspect are reminiscent of Great Black-backed gull. The ginormous bill and stealth-bomber body with long thick legs all help identify this as a Great Black-backed Gull. 

Indeed, the field-readable leg band "Black 3U4" trace this bird back to its natal colony of Appledore Island in Maine. More on this individual here

01 November 2020

Monthly Notables October 2020


  • Little Gull (1st cycle). Nanaimo District, British Columbia. 02 October 2020.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (2nd cycle type). Pierce County, Washington. 02 October 2020.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Toronto County, Ontario. 03-14 October 2020.
    • Same individual from nearby Mississauga County from September 2020.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (adult). Peace River District, British Columbia. 06 October 2020.
  • Heermann's Gull (3rd cycle). Pima County, Arizona. 07 October 2020.
  • Heermann's Gull (1st cycle). Lake County, Montana. 11 October 2020.
    • 2nd State Record.
  • Ross's Gull (adult). Kenai Peninsula County, Alaska. 16 October 2020.
    • Apparent 2nd Record for the Kenai Peninsula.
  • Little Gull (adult). Kitsap County, Washington. 16 October 2020.
  • Laughing Gull (1st cycle). St Joseph County, Michigan. 17 October 2020.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (adult). North Interlake Area County, Manitoba. 17 October 2020.
  • California Gull (1st cycle). Anchorage County, Alaska. 17 October 2020.
  • California Gull (3rd cycle). Nome County, Alaska. 17 October 2020.
    • Apparent 1st Record for Bering Sea region.
  • California Gull (adult). Jefferson County, Wisconsin. 19 October 2020.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Benton County, Washington. 19 October 2020.
    • Presumably a returning bird since winter of 2016.
  • Sabine's Gull (1st cycle). Ashland County, Wisconsin. 20 October 2020.
    • 1st County Record.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (ad., 2nd cycle). Wasco County, Oregon. 20 October 2020.
  • Heermann's Gull (2nd cycle). Sarasota County, Florida, 21 October 2020. 21 October 2020.
  • Black-headed Gull (adult). Chatham-Kent County, Ontario. 23 October 2020.
  • Black-tailed Gull (adult). San Francisco County, California. 23 October 2020.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (juvenile). Clinton County, Iowa. 25 October 2020.
  • Heermann's Gull (3rd cycle). Maricopa County, Arizona. 25 October 2020.
  • Little Gull (1st cycle). Grundy County, Illinois. 26 October 2020.
  • Little Gull (2nd cycle). Miami County, Kansas. 26 October 2020.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (adult). Lincoln County, Oregon. 26 October 2020.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (4th cycle type). Skagway-Hoonah-Angoon County, Alaska. 27 October 2020. 
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Clallam County, Washington. 28 October 2020.

  • 212 Lesser Black-backed Gulls were counted in Findlay, Ohio, on 17 October 2020. Guatam Apte and Jerald Reb reported approximately 40% of the flock consisted of adult type birds. This count is without question a new high for Lessers recorded anywhere away from the Atlantic.
  • On 27 October, Amy Courtney found a subadult Lesser Black-backed Gull in Hoonah, Alaska. Several traits suggest an Asian taxon, but ruling out a European form is proving difficult. 
  • On 22 October, Christopher Coxson photographed a 1st cycle Iceland Gull in British Columbia that appears to be from the nominate subspecies, L g. glaucoides.

31 October 2020

October 2020 Quiz


Washington. January.

Age: This is one of our four-year gulls. Almost everything looks okay for an adult, but the dull bill pattern with black near the tip, and darker greater primary coverts (just below the drooping white secondaries at the base of the outermost primaries) suggest a subadult. Here, subadult means a bird that's mostly adult, but with one or two imperfections. This is a vague term for what could be a very advanced 3rd cycle type, 4th cycle, or perhaps an older bird with some retained "subadult" features. 

Identification: Given the location, let's start with the expected pink-legged taxa: Western and Glaucous-winged Gull. The gray upperparts look a tad darker than a typical Glaucous-winged and slightly flatter and paler than Western. Also, the dusky gray primaries are intermediate between the black on Western and pale to medium gray of Glaucous-winged. You may already be on to where this is going. Intermediate individuals such as our October Quiz gull are freely assigned to the hybrid population of this region: Glaucous-winged x Western, or Olympic Gull. They often have more bulbous-tipped bills than this one, but we might attribute this to our bird being a slighter female. The smudgy head, neck and breast markings are expected on both Glaucous-winged Gull and Olympic Gulls, and to a much lesser extent, on Western Gulls (subadults). 

It bears mentioning that birds with this amount of pigment on the primaries are routinely identified as pure Glaucous-winged Gulls in far northeast Asia. From southern Alaska down to central California, Glaucous-wingeds with this degree of pigment on the primaries are often suspected of having either Herring or Western influence. However, there are apparent pure Glaucous-winged Gulls with darker primaries matching our bird. Those birds should score perfectly in other areas such as wingtip pattern, gray upperpart coloration, eye color, orbital color and bill color/pattern.

30 September 2020

Monthly Notables September 2020


  • Slaty-backed Gull (3rd cycle type). Sitka County, Alaska. 02 September 2020.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (2nd cycle). Huron County, Ontario. 02 September 2020.
  • Glaucous Gull (2nd cycle). Glynn County, Georgia. 04 September 2020.
    • Continuing from June 2020.
  • Franklin's Gull (2nd cycle). Prince County, Prince Edward Island. 04 September 2020.
    • Continuing from July 2020. 
  • Black-headed Gull (adult). Lane County, Oregon. 06 September 2020.
  • Little Gull (2 - 1st cycles). Cook County, Illinois. 07 September 2020.
  • Little Gull (1st cycle). Inyo County, California. 09 September 2020.
    • 2nd County Record. 
  • Little Gull (1st cycle). Jefferson County, Colorado. 11 September 2020.
  • Sabine's Gull (juvenile). Pictou County, Nova Scotia. 15 September 2020.
  • Sabine's Gull (7 - juveniles). Bay County, Michigan. 16 September 2020.
  • Black-headed Gull (1st cycle). Norfolk County, Ontario. 16 September 2020.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (2nd cycle). Mendocino County, California. 16 September 2020. 
  • Franklin's Gull (1st cycle). Juneau County, Alaska. 16 September 2020.
  • Little Gull (adult). Johnson County, Iowa. 19 September 2020.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Mississauga, Ontario. 21 September 2020.
    • 1st September Record locally, and for the entire Great Lakes region.
  • Laughing Gull (2nd cycle). Maricopa County, Arizona. 20 September 2020.
  • Great Black-backed Gull (adult type). Keith County, Nebraska. 20 September 2020.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (2nd cycle). Pierce County, Washington. 24 September 2020.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (adult). San Miguel County, Colorado. 24 September 2020.
    • 1st County Record.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (adult). Yavapai County, Arizona. 24 September 2020.
    • 1st County Record.
  • Laughing Gull (adult). Douglas County, Wisconsin. 26 September 2020.
  • Red-legged Kittiwake (2nd cycle type). Nanaimo District, British Columbia. 27 September 2020.
1. There was an above average presence of Little Gulls throughout the lower 48 this month, many in mostly fresh juvenile plumage. 

2. Lesser Black-backed numbers were likely the highest they've ever been in September throughout the interior, especially in the far southwest United States.

3. A 2nd cycle type Red-legged Kittiwake was observed for less than an hour in Deep Bay (Vancouver Island). This appears to be the 2nd occurrence of this species in BC.

September 2020 Quiz

Wisconsin. February.

Age: Profile and stature suggest a large-white headed gull. An open wing would be helpful for such a plumage aspect, but the overall muted and plain pattern to the tertials and upperwing coverts, as well as the amount of adult-like gray on the back, suggest a 2nd cycle type gull. The primaries, particularly p7-p8, are gently rounded at the tips, which should help move us away from 1st cycle. The bill pattern, with yellow on the nail, is also more expected on an individual beyond its first cycle. 

Identification: Beginning with the primaries, we note a dark brown coloration -- not black -- with prominent pale edging, especially on p5-p6 (closest to the tertials). The tertials are a couple of shades paler, encircled with a pale outline. The coverts become a shade paler than the tertials and have a noticeable frosty look. And so from the wingtip to the lesser coverts, the bird gradually goes from dark to pale in an even manner.  Structurally, the bill is relatively thin with no noticeable buldge at the gonys. The head is nicely rounded, and the head and breast markings are more smudged than streaky. Also helpful here as a supporting field mark is the vividly pink legs. All of this points toward a white-winged gull -- too lanky and small-billed to be Glaucous-winged, which leaves us with Iceland Gull. 

Additional Comments: Note that Glaucous-winged x Herring Gulls can approach this plumage aspect. Those hybrids tend to have a heavy-chested appearance, as well as more body behind the legs and slightly shorter-looking wings than this. But surely there are instance when these two -- Thayer's and Glaucous-winged x Herring hybrids -- can be difficult to separate. 

01 September 2020

Monthly Notables August 2020

  • Glaucous Gull (2nd cycle). Glynn County, Georgia. 01 August 2020.
    • Continuing from June 2020.
  • Thayer's Gull (2nd cycle). Lorain County, Ohio. 02 August 2020.
  • Laughing Gull (juvenile). Monroe County, New York. 03 August 2020.
  • Franklin's Gull (adult type). Worcester County, Maryland. 03 August 2020.
  • California Gull (2nd cycle). Sangamon County, Illinois. 04 August 2020.
    • Continuing from July 2020.
  • Franklin's Gull (adult). Essex County, Massachusetts. 04 August 2020.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (3rd cycle). Portage la Prairie Area County, Manitoba. 07 August 2020.
  • Franklin's Gull (adult). Kings County, Prince Edward Island. 08 August 2020.
    • 2nd Province record, which comes less than two weeks after the 1st province record.
  • California Gull (2nd cycle). Wagoner County, Oklahoma. 09 August 2020.
  • Laughing Gull (adult type). Marin County, California. 15 August 2020.
  • Great Black-backed Gull (2nd cycle). Cook County, Illinois. 18 August 2020.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (2nd cycle). Capital District, British Columbia. 21 August 2020.
    • 2nd Vancouver Island record.
  • Little Gull (juvenile). Stark County, Ohio. 23 August 2020.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (juvenile). Erie County, New York. 25 August 2020.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (2nd cycle). Central Okanagan District, British Columbia. 26 August 2020. 
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (2nd cycle). Clallam County, Washington. 27 August 2020.
    • 3rd County Record.
  • Laughing Gull (juvenile). Niagara County, Ontario. 27 August 2020.
  • Laughing Gull (juvenile). Erie County, New York. 27 August 2020.
    • Same individual as Niagara County, Ontario.
  • Sabine's Gull (2nd cycle type). Lake County, Tennessee. 27 August 2020.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Anchorage County, Alaska. 26 August 2020.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (3rd cycle). Kenai Peninsula County, Alaska. 27 August 2020.
  • Little Gull (juvenile). Highland County, Ohio. 29 August 2020.
  • Laughing Gull (2nd cycle). Eddy County, New Mexico. 29 August 2020.
  • Heermann's Gull (1st cycle). Skagway-Hoonah-Angoon County, Alaska. 29 August 2020.
  • Little Gull (juvenile). Kossouth County, Iowa. 30 August 2020

  1. August saw countless reports of juvenile Heermann's Gulls all along the California, Oregon and Washington coast. The breeding season of 2020 proved to be a banner year with respect to breeding success, one that has not been witnessed for the last 3-4 years.