02 November 2019

Monthly Notables October 2019

  • Black-headed Gull (adult type). Juneau County, Alaska. 02 October 2019.
  • Little Gull (juvenile). Cass County, Minnesota. 02 October 2019.
  • Franklin's Gull (1st cycle). Lycoming County, Pennsylvania. 04 October2019.
    • First County Record.
  • Laughing Gull (1st cycle). Montmagny County, Quebec. 05 October 2019.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (3rd cycle type). Grays Harbor County, Washington. 05 October 2019.
  • Great Black-backed Gull (adult). Mobile County, Alabama. 06 October 2019.
  • Thayer's Gull (1st cycle). Fairbanks North Star County, Alaska. 07 October 2019.
  • Great Black-backed Gull (adult). Keith County, Nebraska. 08 October 2019.
  • Ivory Gull (adult). North Slope County, Alaska. 08 October 2019.
  • California Gull (adult). Berrien County, Michigan. 13 October 2019.
  • Sabine's Gull (juvenile). Aleutians West County, Alaska. 13 October 2019.
    • Late record for St. Paul Island, by 11 days.
  • Mew Gull (adult). Washington County, Colorado. 14 October 2019.
  • Black-tailed Gull (2nd/3rd cycle type). Jefferson County, Washington. 17 October 2019.
    • 8th(?) State Record, pending acceptance.
  • Glaucous Gull (1st cycle). Cook County, Illinois. 19 October 2019.
  • Laughing Gull (adult type). Cochrane District, Ontario. 19 October 2019.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (2nd cycle type). Fairfield County, Connecticut. 19 October 2019.
    • A Review List Species for CT.
  • Glaucous-winged Gull (1st cycle). Salt Lake County, Utah. 21 October 2019.
  • Black-tailed Gull (2nd cycle). La Haute-Cote-Nord County, Quebec. 21 October 2019.
    • An extraordinary plumage likely unrecorded in eastern North America. Most upperparts new (2nd basic?). P1-P5 new, 2nd basic. Outer primaries, secondaries and lesser upperwing coverts old.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Aleutians East County, Alaska. 21 October 2019.
  • Black-tailed Gull (adult). San Francisco County, California. 23 October 2019.
    • 1st Farallon Islands Record.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (adult). San Diego County, California. 23 October 2019.
  • California Gull (2nd cycle). Northumberland County, Ontario. 23 October 2019.
  • Laughing Gull (adult type). Sudbury County, Ontario. 24 October 2019.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (juvenile). Marquette County, Michigan. 24 October 2019.
  • Heermann's Gull (1st cycle). Brevard County, Florida. 25 October 2019.
    • Continuing 1st county record first sighted in August 2019. 
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (adult). North Okanagan District, B.C. 28 October 2019.
  • Glaucous Gull (1st cycle). San Francisco County, California. 30 October 2019.
  1. The highlight this month was the 3 reports of Black-tailed Gull. The species is always exceptionally rare in the ABA area, making October 2019 a very noteworthy event. Most interesting is the young bird photographed in Quebec with a flock of Ring-billed Gulls. This individual was about 4 months behind schedule in its 2nd prebasic molt. 

01 November 2019

October 2019 Quiz

Age: A rather standard 1st cycle, large gull, with what appears to be all juvenile upperparts.

Identification: Our October Quiz is a good example of why knowing date and location is indispensable information at times. This individual was photographed on the Kenai Peninsula along the Cook Inlet in late August. The most expected taxon here, at this time of year, consists of Herring x Glaucous-winged hybrids (so called Cook Inlet Gulls). Armed with this information, we must eliminate that mix first and foremost.

There are a number of features that we may attribute to Glaucous-winged, such as the plain and paler upper tail, pale edges to the primaries, high eye placement, grayish-brown plumage aspect and fine upperwing covert pattern. Less obvious are the Herring features, consisting of a paling bill base, notched scapular pattern, and perhaps most important, the darker primaries.

Two confusion taxa that may be considered away from this hybrid zone, and/or at a later time in the year, are Thayer's and Glaucous x Herring hybrid.

For Thayer's, we'd generally expect an all-dark bill without the wide base. Also, this individual appears big-bodied with higher than normal eye placement and a shorter primary projection (which admittedly may be due to posture or growing wings). Furthermore, the lesser and median coverts on this bird appear too "busy" with wavy markings that aren't as boldly patterned as is typically found in Thayer's.

As for Glaucous x Herring hybrids, that combination is difficult to rule out structurally. However, plumage aspect on that hybrid is often brighter with a frostier appearance, with more white-centered upperparts, as opposed to the grayish tones seen in some Glaucous-winged x Herrings. Again, location and time of year support a Cook Inlet Gull.

Anchor Point, Alaska. August.

01 October 2019

Monthly Notables September 2019

  • 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 County 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

  • 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

  • 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.
  • California Gull (juvenile). Wilkin County, Minnesota. 28 July 2019.
  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.