01 June 2019

Monthly Notables May 2019

  • PALLAS'S GULL (Ichthyaetus ichthyaetus - adult). Aleutians West County, Alaska. 02 May 2019.
  • Glaucous Gull (1st cycle). Monroe County, Indiana. 02 May 2019.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult type). Valdez-Cordova County, Alaska. 02 May 2019.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (1st cycle). Halton County, Ontario. 03 May 2019.
  • California Gull (2nd cycle). Cook County, Illinois. 04 May 2019.
  • Black-tailed Gull (adult). Valdez-Cordova County, Alaska. 06 May 2019.
  • Iceland Gull (adult & 1st cycle). Cook County, Illinois. 12 May 2019.
  • Franklin's Gull (1st cycle). Rockingham County, New Hampshite. 14 May 2019.
  • Great Black-backed Gull (adult). Central Okanagan District, British Columbia. 15 May 2019.
    • 2nd Province Record.
  • Glaucous Gull (1st cycle type). St. Bernard Parish County, Louisiana. 17 May 2019.
  • Little Gull (1st cycle). Trumbull County, Ohio. 23 May 2019.
  • California Gull (2nd cycle). Sheboygan County, Wisconsin. 26 May 2019.
  • Franklin's Gull (adult). North Slope Borough, Alaska. 27 May 2019.
    • Likely a first for Utqiagvik (Barrow).
  • Laughing Gull (adult). Boulder County, Colorado. 29 May 2019.
  • Black-tailed Gull (adult). San Mateo County, California. 30 May 2019.
  • Franklin's Gull (sub-adult). Crawford County, Pennsylvania. 31 May 2019.

  • A remarkale adult Pallas's Gull was found and photographed on Shemya Island by Richard Fischer on 02 May 2019. A first for the ABA area, the sighting struggled to excite many as the island is inaccessible to the public. Fischer relocated the gull the following day and secured more photos. This brings the list of gull species recorded in the ABA area up to 30.
  • During a shorebird survey on the Chandeleur Islands, Oscar Johnson & Matt Brady reported at least 30 putative Kelp x Herring hybrids, including nests. Johnson reports birds nearly as dark as Kelp were observed, and some slightly darker than Herrings with greenish legs and reduced p9-p10 mirrors. 

31 May 2019

May 2019 Quiz

Age: There are two generations of flight feathers seen here. The three outer primaries appear to be the juvenile (1st basic) feathers of a smaller hooded gull. This is also true for the secondaries with brown trailing edge. The 5-6 newer inner primaries are 2nd generation, and so we can be sure this bird is a 2nd cycle. Assuming this is a resident of the northern hemisphere, we might guess it's the boreal spring/summer.

Identification: This month's quiz isn't too bad if we narrow down our choices to a hooded gull with a moderate sized bill in proportion to the head, a dark trailing edge and narrow tailband. Black-headed and Bonaparte's are the top two contenders. Black-headed typically shows dark pigment on the underwing (all that's seen here is a shadow effect and no black). The all-black bill also points away from Black-headed and favors Bonaparte's. May's quiz bird is a relatively straight-forward one-year old Bonaparte's molting flight feathers.

Muskegon County, Michigan. May.

27 May 2019

Ten Is The Magic Number - Or Is It Eleven?

Every May since 2014, I've made it a point to run up to Wisconsin at the height of migration to attempt to see as many gull species possible. 8-9 species is relatively "easy" to get, with 10 being a good day. Yesterday, 26 May 2019, I tallied 9 species in Sheboygan and finished up with my 10th in Port Washington.

Sheboygan: Franklin's (1 sub-adult), Laughing (1 adult), Little (2 first cycle), Bonaparte's (~250; 95% first cycle), Ring-billed (~200; 80% first cycle), Herring (~300; 90% first cycle), Iceland (2 second cycles), Lesser Black-backed (4; two third cycle, two first cycle), California (second cycle).

Port Washington: 1st/2nd cycle type Glaucous Gull.

2nd Cycle California Gull (PB2 molt in motion with inner primaries molting). New scapulars, several tertials and inner upperwing coverts via 1st prealternate.

1st Cycle Little Gull (lower left) with similar-aged Bonaparte's Gull. Gray scaps likely formative. Black cap coming through most likely via 1st prealternate.

Same Individual Above. Note the darker, and thus stronger, outer webs to the primaries are entact.

1st Cycle Bonaparte's with nearly complete hood - an exception to the rule. Entire upperwing appears juvenile. Scapulars are formative, while the black head and white neck are 1st alternate.

Adult Herring Gull glamour shot. One of only a handful of definitive adults seen in Sheboygan.

2nd Cycle Thayer's Gull. The protected secondaries and tailband were sufficiently dark. The scapulars (at least the outer and lower feathers) and 2-3 new upperwing coverts are likely 2nd alternate.

1st Cycle Herring Gull with upperparts recalling Vega HERG, although the well-marked uppertail was typical Smith. Scapulars are 1st alternate, likely acquired last fall. Median coverts emerging (flat gray), perhaps best attributed to first prealternate molt resuming in spring. 

This is only my second time seeing California Gull in the spring/summer season in Wisconsin and it's reassuring to know an 11th species - Great Black-backed Gull - was possible in Manitowoc. Other species that I think are real possibilities for a "Big Gull Day" in this region are Black-legged Kittiwake and Slaty-backed Gull. The latter is a highly desired bird outside of the winter season!

01 May 2019

Monthly Notables April 2019

  • Sabine's Gull (adult). San Francisco County, California. 02 April 2019.
  • Glaucous Gull (1st cycle). Lafourche County, Alabama. 03 April 2019.
  • Thayer's Gull (1st cycle). Volusia County, Florida. 04 April 2019.
  • Great Black-backed Gull (adult). Logan County, Colorado. 06 April 2019.
  • Black-headed Gull (adult). Anne Arundel County, Maryland. 06 April 2019.
  • Glaucous Gull (1st cycle). Salt Lake County, Utah. 06 April 2019.
  • Mew Gull (adult). Barnstable County, Massachusetts. 07 April 2019.
  • Little Gull (1st cycle). Hall County, Georgia. 13 April 2019.
  • Mew Gull (2nd cycle). Nebraska. Lancaster County, Nebraska. 12 April 2019.
  • Glaucous-winged Gull (adult type). Kiowa County, Colorado. 13 April 2019. 
  • Common Gull (2nd cycle). St. John's County, Newfoundland. 17 April 2019.
  • California Gull (adult). New Haven County, Connecticut. 18 April 2019.
    • 2nd State Record.
  • Ivory Gull (adult). Manicouagan County, Quebec. 19 April 2019.
  • Little Gull (1st cycle). Lyon County, Kentucky. 20 April 2019.
  • Laughing Gull (adult). Dane County, Wisconsin. 20 April 2019.
  • Heermann's Gull (adult). Imperial County, California. 20 April 2019.
  • Thayer's Gull (2nd cycle). Galveston County, Texas. 22 April 2019.
  • California Gull (2 adults). Cook County, Illinois. 23 April 2019.
  • Ivory Gull (6 adults). Nome County, Alaska. 24 April 2019.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (2nd cycle). San Luis Obispo County, California 30 April 2019.

30 April 2019

April 2019 Quiz

Age: Our quiz bird is the dark-backed gull right of center. This appears to be a relatively large, 1st/2nd cycle type gull. The broad white tips to the tertials, extensive non-juvenile upperwing coverts, lack of any mirrors on the outer primaries, and the considerable amount of white on the uppertail seems to suggest a 2nd cycle. The outer primaries appear to have pointed tips and are indeed 1st basic (juvenile) flight feathers. However, the start of the 2nd prebasic molt is signaled by the inner primaries being in active molt (difficult to see here, although p5 has been dropped).

Identification: Noticeably larger than the surrounding Ring-billeds, but not much so. This dark-backed gull has a relatively straight, tubular, bill with little expansion to the gonys. Looking closely, the eye is beginning to pale. The fine streaking above the eye, on the crown and hindneck, as well as the dark upperparts, make Lesser Black-backed Gull the best choice.

Sheboygan, Wisconsin. June.

31 March 2019

Monthly Notables March 2019

  • California Gull (2 adults). Marshall County, Kentucky. 01 March 2019.
  • Kamchatka Gull (adult). New Haven County, Connecticut. 02 March 2019.
  • Kumlien's Gull (1st cycle). Kootenai County, Idaho. 02 March 2019.
  • Glaucous-winged Gull (1st cycle). Pueblo County, Colorado. 06 March 2019.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (1st cycle). San Joaquin County, California. 09 March 2019.
  • Western Gull (1st cycle). Dallas County, Texas. 09 March 2019.
    • Continuing from previous month. 
  • California Gull (1st cycle). Volusia County, Florida. 14 March 2019.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult type). Monterey County, California. 14 March 2019.
  • Mew Gull (adult type). Bernalillo County, New Mexico. 15 March 2019.
  • Little Gull (1st cycle). Allegan County, Michigan. 17 March 2019.
  • California Gull (adult type). Franklin County, Massachusetts. 19 March 2019.
    • 5th State Record. 1st noncoastal occurence. 
  • Great Black-backed Gull (adult). Harrison County, Mississippi. 20 March 2019.
  • California Gull (adult type). Middlesex County, New Jersey. 24 March 2019.
    • 5th State Record. 1st County Record. Apparently the same individual sighted in MA the previous week.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (1st cycle). San Joaquin County, California. 24 March 2019.
  • Thayer's Gull (2nd cycle). Middlesex County, New Jersey. 25 March 2019.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (3rd cycle). Monterey County, California. 27 March 2019.
  • Kumlien's Gull (adult). Nanaimo District County, British Columbia. 28 March 2019.


1. The California Gull observed in MA and NJ displayed an interesting wingtip pattern that may be considered atypical for the species. In particular, the primary pattern lacks a mirror on p9, something unexpected on adults. Although expected on some 3rd cycle types, the Atlantic bird appears to be a definitive adult. 

30 March 2019

March 2019 Quiz

Age: The crisp, mottled brown, upperparts and body feathers, along with pointed dark primaries suggest a rather straight forward 1st cycle gull.

Identification: The frosted and checkered appearance of the upperwing coverts might call to mind Thayer's Gull, but this bird has already replaced a fair amount of it juvenile scapulars. You'd expect a Thayer's to do this late in the season when the upperparts are worn and primaries bleached. Also consider the paling bill and lack of pale edges to the primaries. Our March bird is a spiffy-looking Herring Gull photographed in mid-December. Chicago.

Here it is with another herring: