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.

27 February 2020

February 2020 Quiz


Age: The plain brown upperparts and pointed primary tips suggest a 1st cycle which appears to be mostly juvenile (1st basic). The dark auriculars may also clue us in to a bird that has hatched not too long ago.

Identification: The milky-brown plumage aspect, with muted and plain wing coverts are very suggestive of Glaucous-winged. The eye is disproportionately small for such a large face, also suggesting a Pacific Northwest taxon. The outer primaries and uppertail contrast with the rest of the plumage, indicating a darker-winged species may be involved. This is usually a draw between Western and Herring, and knowing the location and time of year would be helpful. The bill isn't too large, or at least the tip isn't as bulbous or blob-tipped like many Western x Glaucous-wingeds. Further, the upperparts all have distinct notching to their edges, something frequently found in Herring x Glaucous-wingeds. To further rule out Western influence, note that the covert rows don't have any wavy barring or checkered patterning.

This individual was photographed on the Kenai Peninsula in late August, the origin of many Herring x Glaucous-winged Gulls. Another photo below in profile, giving a better idea of how dark the primaries are - a little too dark to be comfortably called a pure Glaucous-winged in the Cook Inlet region.



01 February 2020

Monthly Notables January 2020

Sightings:
  • Little Gull (1st cycle). Riverside County, California. 01 January 2020.
  • Black-headed Gull (adult). Riverside County, California. 02 January 2020.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (adult). San Diego County, California. 05 January 2020.
  • Heermann's Gull (1st cycle). Palm Beach County, Florida. 06 January 2020.
    • Continuing.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (adult). Osage County, Kansas. 06 January 2020.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Benton County, Washington. 10 January 2020.
  • Glaucous-winged Gull (adult). Salt Lake County, Utah. 11 January 2020.
  • Mew Gull (1st cycle). Nueces County, Texas. 12 January 2020.
  • California Gull (adult). Sarasota County, Florida. 12 January 2020.
  • Little Gull (adult). Davidson County, Tennessee. 12 January 2020.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). San Mateo County, California. 14 January 2020.
  • Little Gull (adult). Rankin County, Mississippi. 14 January 2020.
  • Franklin's Gull (adult). Eddy County, New Mexico. 14 January 2020.
  • Laughing Gull (1st cycle). Pictou County, Nova Scotia. 16 January 2020.
  • Great Black-backed Gull (1st cycle). Boulder County, Colorado. 19 January 2020.
  • Common Gull (adult). Bristol County, Massachusetts. 20 January 2020.
    • 1st county record of this subspecies.
  • Glaucous Gull (1st cycle). Escambia County, Florida. 20 January 2020.
  • Kamchatka Gull (adult). Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania. 23 January 2020.
    • Pending acceptance. 
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Monterey County, California. 23 January 2020.
  • Little Gull (2nd cycle). Caddo Parish, Louisiana. 24 January 2020.
  • California Gull (subadult). Sangamon County, Illinois. 25 January 2020.
  • Black-headed Gull (1st cycle). Lee County, Florida. 25 January 2020.
  • Great Black-backed Gull (1st cycle). Larimer County, Colorado. 26 January 2020.
    • Apparently the same individual from Boulder County. 
  • California Gull (1st cycle). Ketchikan Gateway County, Alaska. 26 January 2020.
  • Franklin's Gull (1st cycle). Orange County, California. 29 January 2020.
  • Ivory Gull (1st cycle). Lake County, Montana. 30 January 2020.
    • FIRST STATE RECORD.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Yolo County, California. 31 January 2020.