01 June 2020

Monthly Notables May 2020

Sightings:

  • Little Gull (adult). Elkhart County, Indiana. 01 May 2020.
  • Western Gull (3rd cycle type). Grand Prairie County, Alberta. 04 May 2020.
    • An apparent 1st record for the province.
  • Heermann's Gull (1st cycle). Duval County, Florida. 04 May 2020.
    • Continuing from April 2020. Same individual roaming the FL coast since August 2019.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (adult). San Diego County, California. 06 May 2020.
  • Glaucous Gull (1st cycle). Harrison County, Mississippi. 07 May 2020.
  • California Gull (3rd cycle). Cuyahoga County, Ohio. 09 May 2020.
  • Glaucous Gull (1st cycle). Galveston County, Texas. 10 May 2020.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Kenai Peninsula County, Alaska. 11 May 2020.
    • Likely the same individual from Anchor Point on 07 May 2020.
  • Black-headed Gull (adult). Iqaluit, Nunavut. 16 May 2020.
    • 2nd record for the territory. Wearing an unread silver band on right leg.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (adult). Iqaluit, Nunavut. 16 May 2020.
    • Seen at the same landfill in Baffin where the Black-headed above was found.
  • Franklin's Gull (adult). La Vallee-de-l'Or County, Quebec. 17 May 2020.
  • Glaucous Gull (1st cycle type). Walla Walla County, Washington. 17 May 2020.
  • Little Gull (1st cycle). Edmonton County, Alberta. 18 May 2020.
  • Great Black-backed Gull (1st cycle). Dubuque County, Iowa. 24 May 2020.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (2nd cycle). San Francisco County, California. 27 May 2020.
  • Laughing Gull (adult). St. John's County, Newfoundland. 27 May 2020.

31 May 2020

May 2020 Quiz

Michigan. August.

Age: This month's quiz is timely with many gulls in the northern hemisphere now beginning to replace flight feathers. Undergoing a complete molt, this individual has renewed most of its primaries which have an adult-like pattern to them. Overall the upperwing and tail are far from "definitive adult" and so it is perfectly fine to assume the newer flight feathers that have come in are 3rd generation. Thus, this is the 3rd plumage cycle and the complete molt here is the 3rd prebasic molt. The old retained primary (p10) is 2nd generation.

Identification: The brownish cast to the upperparts impart a darker feel than is typical of this species. Focusing on the new primaries, it is apparent that we're looking at a paler gray species. The bill is on the heavy side, but proportionately sized with the head. The eye appears dark, but zooming in shows much speckling and paling -- this helps rule out California Gull. The wide and complete tailband, and bill pattern, are wrong for a Ring-billed Gull, among several other features. The only reasonable identification for this pink-legged, pale, large white-headed gull, is Herring Gull.

01 May 2020

Monthly Notables April 2020

Sightings:
  • Slaty-backed Gull (3rd cycle). Douglas County, Wisconsin. 02 April 2020.
  • Mew Gull (1st cycle). Nueces County, Texas. 03  April 2020.
    • Continuing from February 2020. 
  • Yellow-legged Gull (adult). St. John's County, Newfoundland. 07 April 2020.
  • Black-headed Gull (adult). Chittenden County, Vermont. 07 April 2020.
  • Black-headed Gull (adult). Ventura County, California. 07 April 2020.
  • California Gull (subadult). Elkhart County, Indiana. 10 April 2020.
  • Little Gull (adult). Prince William County, Virginia. 17 April 2020.
  • Heermann's Gull (2nd cycle). Pima County, Arizona. 18 April 2020.
  • Little Gull (adult). Elkhart County, Indiana. 20 April 2020.
  • Laughing Gull (1st cycle). San Francisco County, California. 20 April 020.
    • Apparent 4th record for San Francisco.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (1st cycle). Suffolk County, New York. 21 April 2020.
  • Franklin's Gull (2 adults). San Mateo & San Francisco County, California. 24 April 2020.
  • Franklin's Gull (adult). Mason County, West Virginia. 24 April 2020.
  • Heermann's Gull (1st cycle). Duval County, Florida. 26 April 2020.
    • 1st County Record. Roaming eastern Florida coast since August 2019.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (1st cycle). Racine County, Wisconsin. 27 April 2020.
  • Black-tailed Gull (adult). Central Okanagan District, British Columbia. 30 April 2020.

April 2020 Quiz


Age: An apparent large white-headed gull that appears to be beyond its 1st cycle. Notice the marbled inner greater coverts and lower tertial edges. Also, there appears to be three generations of median coverts. The mid median coverts are oldest. These worn and frayed feathers are likely 2nd basic. The outer median coverts are fresher and may have come in with a later 2nd prebasic wave (along with the lesser coverts). The darker gray inner medians are very likely 2nd alternate. All in all, the upperparts do not fit a 1st cycle. It's difficult to make out primary-tip shape or patterns, but the very small and indistinct white tips to p6-p7 on otherwise black primaries are expected on 2nd generation flight feathers.

Identification: This is a four-year gull with an apparent long wing projection, prominent gape with a "frown", a dark post-ocular line, pinched in forehead, straight tubular bill with a familiar distal-black, proximal-red pattern on the tip, bluish tibia, heavy lower neck markings, and medium gray upperparts coming in. The gull in the background is a heavy-billed Western Gull giving us a very good sense of overall body size and shape. I hope by now you've settled on California Gull if you were unsure about our April quiz. Many people nailed this one without a problem this month but were tripped up by plumage/age. One final note on that, notice the very tip to the bill. In 1st cycles, the tip is typically all black, similar to that we see in many 1st-2nd cycle Glaucous.

Santa Cruz County, California. January.

01 April 2020

Monthly Notables March 2020

Sightings:

  • Black-headed Gull (adult). Riverside County, California. 01 March 2020.
  • Glaucous-winged Gull (adult). Larimer County, Colorado. 01 March 2020.
  • California Gull (adult). St. Joseph County, Indiana. 01 March 2020.
  • Little Gull (adult). Allegan County, Michigan. 02 March 2020.
  • Great Black-backed Gull (1st cycle). Lancaster County, Nebraska. 06 March 2020.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Comox-Strathcona District, British Columbia. 07 March 2020.
  • Little Gull (adult). Davidson County, Tennessee. 08 March 2020.
  • Mew Gull (adult). Clay County, Missouri. 11 March 2020.
    • 2nd State Record.
  • Kumlien's Gull (1st cycle). Harrison County, Mississippi. 11 March 2020.
  • Laughing Gull (adult). St. Charles County, Missouri. 11 March 2020.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Sitka County, Alaska. 12 March 2020.
  • California Gull (adult). Scott County, Minnesota. 15 March 2020.
    • 1st County Record.
  • Sabine's Gull (adult). San Diego County, California. 18 March 2020.
  • Great Black-backed Gull (2nd cycle). Lancaster County, Nebraska. 19 March 2020.
  • Heermann's Gull (1st cycle). Nassau County, Florida. 19 March 2020.
    • Same individual spotted along the eastern Florida coast all winter.
  • Sabine's Gull (adult). San Bernadino County, California. 21 March 2020.
  • Little Gull (adult). Galveston County, Texas. 21 March 2020.
  • California Gull (adult). Dakota County, Minnesota. 23 March 2020.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (2nd cycle). Monterey County, California. 27 March 2020.
  • Heermann's Gull (1st cycle). St. John's County, Florida. 27 March 2020.
    • Same individual spotted along the eastern Florida coast all winter.
  • Franklin's Gull (adult). Wayne County, Ohio. 28 March 2020.
  • Kamchatka Gull (adult). Nantucket County, Massachusetts. 28 March 2020.


Notes:
1) On 19 March 2020, Priscilla Footlik reported "the" 1st cycle Heermann's Gull that has been wintering on the eastern Florida coast at Fernandina Beach in Nassau County. This is the northernmost sighting of this individual, just a rock's throw from the Georgia border.


March 2020 Quiz

Northern Illinois. 
Age: 
Somewhat of a tricky plumage, but when compared to the 2nd cycle Herring in the background, we can be confident about categorizing this as a larger four-year gull. Based on the rounded tips to the primaries (see the innermost primary closest to the tertials, for instance), it's safe to suggest 2nd cycle. The plain, marbled, greater coverts and soft stippling on the outer edges of the lower tertials also support 2nd cycle.

Identification:
This overall delicate-looking gull has smaller proportions, with a small head and short, straight bill. Looking critically at the primaries, note they're actually a dark brown and not black. The tertials are a lighter brown, and the contrast from wingtip to wing coverts is a gradual one (not as contrasy as the Herring in the background). There aren't many gray, adult-like, scapulars on the back and that's somewhat helpful. The mostly black bill for a 2nd cycle four-year gull is also a good supporting field mark for this species. If you guessed Thayer's Gull for this month's quiz, congratulations and well done. Based on size, structure and plumage, I identified this individual as a 2nd cycle Thayer's Gull. Open wing below.

Lake County, Illinois. March.


28 February 2020

Monthly Notables February 2020

Sightings:

  • Little Gull (adult type). Caddo Parish, Louisiana. 01 February 2020.
    • 1st county record. 
  • Glaucous Gull (1st cycle). Val Verde County, Texas. 01 February 2020.
  • Kamchatka Gull (adult). Delaware County, Pennsylvania. 01 February 2020.
    • Pending acceptance.
  • Kamchatka Gull (adult). Essex County, Massachusetts. 01 February 2020.
  • Common Gull (adult). Essex County, Massachusetts. 03 February 2020.
  • Mew Gull (adult). Norfolk County, Massachusetts. 03 February 2020.
  • California Gull (1st cycle). Nueces County, Texas. 04 February 2020.
  • Mew Gull (1st cycle). Nueces County, Texas. 04 February 2020.
  • Slaty-back Gull (adult). St. John's County, Newfoundland. 04 February 2020.
  • Laughing Gull (1st cycle). Essex County, New York. 05 February 2020.
    • Apparent 1st winter record for Lake Champlain basin & Adironacks.
  • Black-headed Gull (1st cycle). Okaloosa County, Florida. 06 February 2020.
  • Ivory Gull (1st cycle). Lake County, Montana. 08 February.
    • Continuing from January.
  • Black-headed Gull (adult). Tompkins County, New York. 09 February 2020.
  • California Gull (1st cycle). Cuyahoga County, Ohio. 11 February 2020.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Monterey County, California. 13 February 2020.
  • Vega Gull (adult). San Mateo County, California. 14 February 2020.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Yolo County, California. 15 February 2020.
    • Likely same individual from January.
  • California Gull (adult). St. Joseph County, Indiana. 15 February 2020.
  • Little Gull (adult). Dallas County, Texas. 16 February 2020.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Cuyahoga County, Ohio. 19 February 2020.
    • 2nd State Record. 1st County Record.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Del Norte County, California. 25 February 2020.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). San Mateo County, California. 29 February 2020.