31 July 2018

Monthly Notables July 2018

Sightings:

  • Black-legged Kittiwake (1st cycle). San Mateo County, California. 02 July 2018.
  • Laughing Gull (1st summer). Clay County, Iowa. 03 July 2018.
    • 1st County Record.
  • Bonaparte's Gull (1st summer). Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. 09 July 2018.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (4th cycle type). Inuvik County, NW Territories. 09 July 2018.
  • Mew Gull (1st summer). San Luis Obispo County, California. 10 July 2018.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (1st summer). San Mateo County, California. 12 July 2018.
    • Possible first local summer record.
  • Franklin's Gull (1st summer). Newport County, Rhode Island. 16 July 2018.
    • 13th State Record.
  • Glaucous Gull (1st summer). Suffolk County, New York. 17 July 2018.
  • Mew Gull (2nd summer type). Humboldt County, California. 19 July 2018.
  • Sabine's Gull (2 first summer individuals). St. John's County, Newfoundland. 19 July 2018.
  • Laughing Gull (adult). Lambton County, Ontario. 21 July 2018.
  • Iceland Gull (1st summer). Chatham-Kent County, Ontario. 22 July 2018.
  • Glaucous Gull (adult). Monroe County, New York. 23 July 2018.
  • Glaucous-winged Gull (1st summer). Kiholo Bay, Hawaii. 23 July 2018.
    •  Continuing from June. 
  • Iceland Gull (3rd summer). Yukon County, Yukon Territory. 26 July 2018.
    • Putative Kumlien's Iceland Gull. 
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (2nd summer). Portage la Prairie County, Manitoba. 27 July 2018.
  • Glaucous Gull (adult). Niagara County, New York. 27 July 2018.
    • Apparently the same out-of-season adult seen in Monroe County on 23 July 2018.
  • Franklin's Gull (adult type). St. John's County, Newfoundland. 28 July 2018.
  • Glaucous-winged Gull (4th cycle type). San Diego County, California. 28 July 2018.
  • Great Black-backed Gull (2nd summer). Oliver County, South Dakota. 29 July 2018.
  • Laughing Gull (adult). Ventura County, California. 31 July 2018.

Notes: 
  • Some promising news with respect to Heermann's Gulls in the state of California. Local birders and conservationists Joanna & Byron Chin documented two separate nesting sites with perhaps up to 11 young successfully fledged in Seaside. Efforts are underway to build and maintain a small man-made island on Roberts Lake. This island will replace the old sunken island that the colony used in the past. Check out this inspiring video by Byron where a drone is used to survey the lake: https://www.facebook.com/SeasideHEEGs/videos/500183813749205/
  • A small Iceland Gull colony of approximately 150 birds was discovered on 17 July 2018 in northern Quebec along the Hudson Strait. The observer who reported the birds, Alexandre Anctil, made the sighting overhead from a helicopter. The adults - rearing young - are described as pale and gray-winged, not dark-winged. Alexandre explained to me that from a distance, he thought the gulls would be the more expected Glaucous Gull. This colony is one of the largest of its kind to be found at such a southern latitude (61.682593N 71.767582O). The age breakdown is estimated to be 100 adults and approximately 50 chicks. 

July 2018 Quiz


Age: The medley of old and new mottled upperparts, along with retained, pointed, outer primaries give the impression of 1st summer gulls. Indeed all three of our July Quiz birds are roughly 1 year of age (now in their 2nd prebasic molts).

Identification: We'll begin with the darkest individual on the far left. The lightly barred undertail coverts and significantly solid dark upperparts suggest a black-backed gull. The defined striations along the nape and neck are found in Lesser Black-backed Gull, and the size and structure agree with that species.

Next, the lighter individual on the far right shows a mixture of pale grays to the new scapulars. These feathers are light enough to steer us away from a dark-backed gull. The heavily marked undertail coverts and body structure fit Herring Gull, and there is little doubt it is any other large pale gull.


The trickiest of our group is the center bird in the back. At first glance one may pass it off as another young messy summer Herring Gull. However, the delicate bill and small rounded head give it a more graceful expression. There are hints of a pale uppertail and pale underside to the left wing (compare this to the darker underside of the Herring Gull's right wing). The smaller and more compact size is also noteworthy. The center gull was identified as a 1st summer Thayer's Iceland Gull. An open wing to seal the deal:

The underside to the primaries are genuinely pale and not strictly due to fading and bleaching.

Our July 2018 Quiz was taken in Sheboygan County, Wisconsin on Lake Michigan. 23 June 2018.

30 July 2018

Juvenile American Herrings - Late July


Photos taken on 29 JULY 2018 

A set of 10 juvenile American Herrings Gulls from Lake Michigan (Milwaukee, Wisconsin). Herring Gulls nest throughout the downtown area here on rooftops, along riverbanks and undisturbed outcrops along the lake.

Of particular interest is the variation found in the greater covert patterns. See for instance the lightly marked and checkered pattern on individual #2 & #5 versus the heavily blotted pattern of individual #4 & #6.
#1

#2

#3

#4

#5

#6

#7

#8

#9

#10

7th Cycle Great Lakes Herring Gull

Below are images of another known-age, known-origin, American Herring Gull that I found in Milwaukee, Wisconsin over the weekend. It's undergoing its 7th prebasic molt.

Federal Band #: 1106-19241. Banded as pullus on 15 June 2011 in Egg Harbor, Wisconsin (Door County).


Most interesting about this bird is that it shows a p9 mirror on what is presumably a 6th generation primary. Two mirrors on Great Lakes Herrings is, in my estimate, found in only 10-15% of adults, at best.






01 July 2018

Monthly Notables June 2018

Sightings:
  • Franklin's Gull (adult). St. John's County, Newfoundland. 03 June 2018. 
  • Heermann's Gull (1st summer). Pima County, Arizona. 05 June 2018.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (3rd summer). Portage la Prairie County, Manitoba. 07 June 2018.
  • Herring Gull (1st summer). Eddy County, New Mexico. 08 June 2018.
  • Mew Gull (2nd cycle). Rimouski-Neigette County, Quebec. 09 June 2018.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (2nd cycle). Kitsap County, Washington. 13 June 2018.
  • Franklin's Gull (1st summer). Somerset County, Pennsylvania. 15 June 2018.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (2nd summer). Inuvik County, Northwest Territories. 16 June 2018.
  • Franklin's Gull (adult). San Mateo County, California. 18 June 2018.
  • Laughing Gull (1st summer). Alger County, Michigan. 22 June 2018.
  • Ring-billed Gull (2nd summer). Keewatin County, Nunavut. 22 June 2018.
  • Thayer's Gull (1st summer). Sheboygan County, Wisconsin. 23 June 2018.
  • Mew Gull (1st summer). Los Angeles County, California. 24 June 2018.
  • Laughing Gull (adult, 2 second cycle types). Berrien County, Michigan. 28 June 2018.
    • The 3 individuals seen together may constitute a state high count for a single site.
  • Great Black-backed Gull (1st summer). Berrien County, Michigan. 26 June 2018.

30 June 2018

June 2018 Quiz

Age: At first glance this appears to be an adult, or an adult-type, large white-headed gull. The light gray tips to the median coverts are reason enough to suspect this is a sub-adult bird.

Identification: This month's quiz bird is dark-backed with rich yellow legs. There aren't many species that meet this criteria in North America. Lesser Black-backed Gull, California Gull and Yellow-footed Gull should all be considered.

I will dismiss California Gull on the count of it being a noticeably paler species than what is seen here. On the palest end, California Gull scores a 5 on the Kodak Gray Scale, and a 7.5 on the darkest end. The palest Lesser Black-backed Gull (subspecies graellsii) scores a 9 on the Kodak Gray Scale, and a 13 on the darkest end (nominate fuscus - unrecorded in North America). Yellow-footed Gull (monotypic) ranges 9-10.5.

We are left with Lesser Black-backed and Yellow-footed Gull. The bill on our bird is thick all throughout and shows a noticeable bulbous tip. This seems much better for the Mexican species. Zooming in we note a darkish iris and yellow orbital. Adult type, and even many sub-adult Lessers, show eyes that are considerably paler than this. Lesser Black-backed also sports a reddish orbital ring.

Our quiz bird is indeed a Yellow-footed Gull photographed at the Salton Sea in Imperial County, California. September. 


01 June 2018

Monthly Notables May 2018

Sightings:
  • Slaty-backed Gull (2nd cycle). Camrose-Llyodminister County, Alberta. 02 May 2018.
    • Continuing from April 2018.
  • Glaucous Gull (1st cycle). San Mateo County, California. 02 May 2018.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (adult). Natrona County, Wyoming. 03 May 2018.
  • Little Gull (adult). St. Louis County, Minnesota. 04 May 2018.
    • 2 adults seen in the area on 12 May 2018.
  • Iceland Gull (1st cycle). Harrison County, Mississippi. 08 May 2018.
  • Herring Gull (1st cycle). Mohave County, Arizona. 09 May 2018.
  • Great Black-backed Gull (1st cycle). Burleigh County, North Dakota. 12 May 2018.
  • Iceland Gull (1st cycle). Cook County, Illinois. 12 May 2018.
  • Black-headed Gull (adult). Aleutians West County, Alaska. 12 May 2018.
  • Franklin's Gull (adult). Saint Paul Island, Alaska. 16 May 2018.
    • Apparent 6th record for the island.
  • Glaucous-winged Gull (adult). Fort Smith County, Northwest Territories. 18 May 2018.
    • 2nd record for the Yellowknife area. 
  • Franklin's Gull (1st cycle). Transylvania County, Pennsylvania. 18 May 2018.
  • Franklin's Gull (adult). Anchorage County, Alaska. 19 May 2018.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Kodiak Island County, Alaska. 20 May 2018. 
  • Ross's Gull (adult). Kusilvak County, Alaska. 24 May 2018.
  • Heermann's Gull (adult). Yuma County, Arizona. 25 May 2018.
  • Laughing Gull (adult). St. Louis County, Minnesota. 26 May 2018.
  • Common Gull (adult). Avalon Peninsula. Newfoundland. 26 May 2018.
    • Found in a Ring-billed Gull colony. No evidence of nesting. 

Notes:

1.
An apparent 1st cycle Laughing x Ring-billed Gull was photographed in by Janice Soos Farral in Lucas County, Ohio in early May. Photos here.

2. The dark-winged 1st cycle Ring-billed Gull photographed in Lansing, Michigan in early April 2018 was apparently spotted in Berrien County, Michigan on 09 May 2018. This individual may clarify the juvenile Ring-billed observed in Wisconsin Point a couple of years ago, suspected of being a Ring-billed x Lesser Black-backed Gull. Previous to this, solid dark wings as such have only been reported in small, hooded, gulls in North America.

3. Back in March of 2018, Pennsylvania Game Commission biologists fitted 9 adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls with satellite transmitters. As of 21 May 2018, two individuals had made it to southwest Greenland, and 5 others were to the far northeast between the Bay of Fundy, Northern Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Copyright Pennsylvania Game Commission.