01 October 2019

Monthly Notables September 2019

Sightings:
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (adult type). Clallam County, Washington. 01 September 2019.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (adult). Bonner County, Idaho. 02 September 2019.
    • 1st County Record. Earliest State Fall Record. 
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult type). Kodiak Island County, Alaska. 02 September 2019.
  • Little Gull (1st cycle). Barton County, Kansas. 02 September 2019.
  • Glaucous Gull (2nd cycle). Racine County, Wisconsin. 03 September 2019.
  • Laughing Gull (1st cycle). Muskegon County, Michigan. 03 September 2019.
  • Little Gull (adult type). Grand Folks County, North Dakota. 03 September 2019.
    • Migrant molting. 3-4 retained outer primaries.
  • Sabine's Gull (1st cycle). Virginia Beach County, Virginia. 06 September 2019.
  • Little Gull (adult). Lyman County, South Dakota 06 September 2019.
  • Heermann's Gull (1st cycle). Brevard County, Florida. 11 September 2019.
    • 1st State Record from August 2019.
  • Great Black-backed Gull (adult). Keith County, Nebraska. 11 September 2019.
  • Black-headed Gull (1st cycle). Washington County, Rhode Island. 12 September 2019.
  • Ring-billed Gull (3rd cycle type). Anchorage County, Alaska. 15 September 2019.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (1st cycle). Kitsap & King County, Washington. 21 September 2019.
  • California Gull (1st cycle). Clinton County, Illinois. 21 September 2019.
  • Bonaparte's Gull (adult). Coconino County, Arizona. 23 September 2019.
  • Franklin's Gull (adult). Monroe County, New York. 25 September 2019.
  • Thayer's Gull (adult). Santa Cruz County, California. 26 September 2019.

September 2019 Quiz



Age: Although the details of this dark, somewhat backlit individual are difficult to make out, the outermost primaries appear pointed enough, and tail feathers dark enough, to suggest 1st cycle.

Identification: It is obvious this gull is genuinely dark. What appears to be a sooty brown plumage isn't strictly a function of lighting conditions. The uniformly-filled undertail coverts and vent region reinforce its true darkness. The legs look black, and although lighting may be influencing this, they certainly don't look pale or pink. The bill is medium size with a fleshy base, complementing a relatively skinny neck and head. The wings appear narrow and noticeably long. The only regularly occurring North American gull that fits in this case is a young Heermann's Gull. A juvenile California Gull may cause confusion momentarily, but the undertail coverts and leg color don't work for even the darkest California Gull.

Our September bird is a juvenile Heermann's, photographed off the coast of Washington in August. From some 1800 Heermann's seen along the coast in late August, this was the only juvenile we encountered.

31 August 2019

Monthly Notables August 2019

Sightings:
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (4th cycle type). North Slope County, Alaska. 02 August 2019.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Kenai Peninsula County, Alaska. 05 August 2019.
  • Laughing Gull (2nd cycle type). Manicouagan County, Quebec. 05 August 2019.
  • Little Gull (1st cycle). Durham County, North Carolina. 24 August 2019.
  • Laughing Gull (juvenile). Beauharnois-Salaberry County, Quebec. 26 August 2019.
  • California Gull (1st cycle). Kenai Peninsula Borough, Alaska. 27 August 2019.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (adult). Del Norte County, California. 30 August 2019.
    • First County Record. 
  • Heermann's Gull (1st cycle). Brevard County, Florida. 31 August 2019.


August 2019 Quiz


Age: Our quiz bird is right of center. A brown, nondescript, individual with juvenile primaries and upperparts. We can be sure this is a 1st cycle gull. The dark eye in this species is kept as an adult, but the leg color soon transitions to yellow.

Identification: For reference, we have a distinct Heermann's Gull on the left and our quiz bird is not much different in size. The bill appears a tad longer and perhaps a tad slimmer than the Heermann's Gull. The weakly patterned undertail coverts, long downward gape, white forehead, and of course, size, all point to California Gull. Ordinarily, this species appears much longer-winged than seen here, but this is due to posture and the angle at which the primaries are being held over the tail (slightly away). Nonetheless, the structure is attenuated in the rear and the proportions are delicate, and not large and bulky, as presumably, other large west coast species. The scapulars on this bird are notably broad, large and dark-centered. There is quite a bit of variation in California Gull scapular patterns, just as with most other large, four-year gulls.

San Mateo County, California. September. 

01 August 2019

Monthly Notables July 2019

Sightings:
  • Little Gull (1st cycle). Norfolk County, Ontario. 02 July 2019.
  • Glaucous Gull (2nd cycle). Lake County, Illinois. 06 July 2019.
  • Franklin's Gull (subadult type). District of Columbia. 08 July 2019.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (3rd cycle). San Francisco County, California. 08 July 2019.
  • Iceland Gull (2nd cycle). Barnstable County, Massachusetts. 11 July 2019.
  • Glaucous Gull (2nd cycle). Sanilac County, Michigan. 17 July 2019.
  • Laughing Gull (adult).  Labrador-Happy Valley-Goose Bay County, NL. 19 July 2019.
    • 2nd Labrador Record.
  • Laughing Gull (juvenile). Lancaster County, Nebraska. 19 July 2019.
  • Great Black-backed Gull (1st cycle). Wabash County, Illinois. 24 July 2019.
  • Laughing Gull (2nd cycle). Pinal County, Arizona. 26 July 2019.
  • Heermann's Gull (juvenile). Polk County, Iowa. 28 July 2019.
    • 1ST STATE RECORD. 
  • California Gull (juvenile). Wilkin County, Minnesota. 28 July 2019.
Notes:
  1. A belated report of the Pallas's Gull found on Shemya on 02 May 2019. The bird was found expired on 14 May 2019. The specimen has been preserved and is now at the University of Alaska Museum collection in Fairbanks.


July 2019 Quiz


Age: The darker bird on the left has an all-dark bill with a fair amount of juvenile scapulars and wing coverts. It's safe to age it as a 1st cycle. Given the leg color and largely juvenile plumage, we can assume it is a hatch year (HY). But what about the paler gull on the right? It too looks fine for a 1st cycle. Note its predominately brown-patterned wing coverts, post-juvenile scapulars with brown shaft streaks, notched tertials and pointed primaries. The gull on the right is undergoing a more extensive post-juvenile molt (gray lesser coverts coming in as well as a few inner median coverts). It also has a more advanced bill pattern and leg color.


Identification: The apparent difference in size and plumage aspects may suggest two different species, but this isn't the case. Based on bill size and overall proportions, they don't look like any of our large 4-year gulls. Both birds have relatively messy and contrasting upperparts and this is typical of young Ring-billed Gulls. The paler bird on the right is a typical 1st cycle Ring-billed. The pink bill base, paling white head and neck, silver-gray post-juvenile feathers and hints of a lightly marked tail band are supportive. The smaller bird on the left is also a Ring-billed, but perhaps one that hatched later in the breeding season. Mew Gull is eliminated by several features: 1) the wide bill base, 2) the gray inner greater covert, which Mews don't show in their hatch year, 3) the largely messy and contrasting plumage with dark-spotted post-juvenile upper scapulars. Mew shows a more warm aspect with softer textures and feather edges that are more broadly pale and uniform.

Both of these hatch year Ring-billed Gulls portray some of the variation found in this age group. Dark versus pale, and small versus large are appreciable differences that are encountered routinely.

August. Cook County, Illinois.
 


01 July 2019

Monthly Notables June 2019

Sightings:
  • Black-headed Gull (1st cycle). Iosco County, Michigan. 01 June 2019.
  • Heermann's Gull (adult type). Gila County, Arizona. 03 June 2019.
  • Bonaparte's Gull (1st cycle). Harrison County, Mississippi. 03 June 2019.
  • Ross's Gull (1st cycle). Nome County, Alaska. 06 June 2019.
  • Glaucous Gull (1st cycle). Jefferson County, Louisiana. 08 June 2019.
  • Laughing Gull (1st cycle). Faribault, Minnesota. 09 June 2019.
  • Thayer's Gull (adult). Orleans County, New York. 14 June 2019.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (2nd cycle). Matagorda County, Texas. 14 June 2019.
  • Little Gull (1st cycle). Woodford County, Illinois. 17 June 2019.
  • Sabine's Gull (adult). Central Okanagan District, British Columbia. 28 June 2019.
  • Black-headed Gull (adult). Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia. 28 June 2019.