01 May 2019

Monthly Notables April 2019

Sightings:
  • 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

Sightings:
  • 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.

Notes:

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:



01 March 2019

Monthly Notables February 2019

Sightings:
  • Black-tailed Gull (adult type). Volusia County, Florida. 01 February 2019.
    • FIRST STATE RECORD.
  • Glaucous-winged Gull (1st cycle). Pueblo County, Colorado. 01 February 2019.
  • Franklin's Gull (adult). Lake County, Illinois. 04 February 2019.
  • California Gull (adult). Marshall County, Kentucky. 08 February 2019.
  • Franklin's Gull (adult). Elkhart County, Indiana. 08 February 2019.
  • Thayer's Gull (1st cycle). St. John's County, Newfoundland & Labrador. 09 February 2019.
  • Thayer's Gull (adult). Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia. 09 February 2019.
  • Glaucous-winged Gull (1st cycle). Arapahoe County, Colorado. 09 February 2019.
  • Little Gull (adult). Clark County, Ohio. 10 February 2019.
  • Bonaparte's Gull (1st cycle). Valdez-Cordova County, Alaska. 12 February 2019.
  • Black-headed Gull (adult). Riverside County, California. 17 February 2019.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Stanislaus County, California. 18 February 2019.
    • 1st County Record.
  • Western Gull (1st cycle). Dallas County, Texas. 21 February 2019.
    • 6th State Record. 1st County Record.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (2nd cycle). Shasta County, California. 22 February 2019.
  • California Gull (1st cycle). Skagway-Hoonah-Angoon County, Alaska. 22 February 2019.
  • Thayer's Gull (3rd cycle). Nantucket County, Massachusetts. 23 February 2019.
  • Little Gull (adult). Clinton County, Illinois. 24 February 2019.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (2nd cycle). San Joaquin County, California. 24 February 2019.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (3rd cycle type). Skagway-Hoonah-Angon County, AK. 24 February 2019.
  • European Herring Gull (adult). Volusia County, Florida. 26 February 2019.
  • Laughing Gull (adult). Licking County, Ohio. 27 February 2019.

Miscellaneous Notes:
  1. In proper form, Michael Brothers started off the month by finding a 1st state record Black-tailed Gull in Daytona Beach Shores. This one-day wonder fills a void for the species in the entire southeast region.
  2.  An apparent new North American high count of 817 Lesser Black-backed Gulls was recorded by Devich Farbotnik on 24 February 2019 at Lake Nockamixon. Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Incidentally, two individuals were wearing satellite transmitters, believed to be those installed by the Pennsylvania Game Commission in March of 2018.

28 February 2019

February 2019 Quiz


Age: Aging this individual is difficult given this limited view to the upperwing. We have what appears to be a hooded gull based on the post-ocular spot. On one hand it appears to have a dark trailing edge to the secondaries, suggesting a 1st cycle, but also shows two distinct mirrors on p9-p10. What appears to be an all-white tail is more indicative of a bird beyond its 1st plumage cycle.


Identification: This month's quiz elicited some interesting responses, ranging from Bonaparte's, Little, Black-headed, Gray-hooded and even Brown-hooded Gull. Only 4 people (out of 38) had the correct ID: Gray-hooded Gull. We can easily dismiss Bonaparte's as that species doesn't show a dark underwing. Little Gull is shorter-winged and lacks the relatively large maroon bill seen here - nor does it show mirrors per se. Black-headed Gull comes close to this, especially the dark underwing, but that species also lacks mirrors on the outer primaries, and instead, shows a distinct white wedge on the outermost primaries. Brown-hooded comes to mind. A 1st cycle Brown hooded has a mirror-band that typically shows three mirrors that are larger and more elongated than our quiz bird. If this were an adult Brown-hooded - which it is not - the outer primary tips would be completely white from underneath. The only reasonable choice left is Gray-hooded. The broad, smokey-gray to black pattern on the underwing, two reasonably-sized mirrors embedded in a black wingtip, maroon bill and what looks like traces of a faded gray hood help pin this identification.

This species has only been recorded in North America twice - once in Florida and once in New York.
Our February bird was photographed in November in coastal Peru. The upperwing reveals a distinct wingtip pattern exhibited by this species, as well as the darker secondaries seen on adult types.



01 February 2019

Monthly Notables January 2019

Sightings:
  • Glaucous-winged Gull (adult). Larimer County, Colorado. 01 January 2019.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (2nd cycle). Monterey County, California. 01 January 2019.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (adult). Will County, Illinois. 01 January 2019.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Wayne County, Michigan. 03 January 2019.
    • Continuing from previous month.
  • Black-headed Gull (adult). Riverside County, California. 03 January 2019.
  • Common Gull (adult). Essex County, Massachusetts. 05 January 2019.
    • Continuing bird with metal band on right leg. 
  • Kamchatka Gull (adult). Essex County, Massachusetts. 05 January 2019.
  • Kamchatka Gull (subadult). Fairfield County, Connecticut. 08 January 2019.
  • Ivory Gull (1st cycle). North Dame Bay-Lewisporte County, NL. 09 January 2019.
  • Great Black-backed Gull (adult). Daggett County, Utah. 13 January 2019.
    • FIRST STATE RECORD.
  • Vega Gull (adult type). Volusia County, Florida. 14 January 2019.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Stark County, Ohio. 15 January 2019.
    • FIRST STATE RECORD.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Essex County, Ontario. 16 January 2019.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). St. John's County, Newfoundland. 17 January 2019.
  • Slaty-bcked Gull (adult). Shelburne County, Nova Scotia. 21 January 2019.
    • 2nd Province Record.
  • California Gull (adult type). Cape Breton County, Nova Scotia. 27 January 2019.
    • 2nd Province Record. Only the 3rd for Atlantic Canada.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (4th cycle type). Monterey County, California. 29 January 2019.

Miscellaneous Notes:
  1. Certainly the most exciting news this month is the Slaty-backed Gull discovered by Kent Miller in Stark County, Ohio. The setting for this sighting was nearly identical to the state's first Kelp Gull found at the same landfill four years ago. A long overdue bird for the Buckeye state.
  2. The banded Icelandic Common Gull that is now returning to MA, was found with an apparent Kamchatka Gull in Essex County. Observer Suzanne Sullivan reported both birds seen together. To make matters most interesting, the Kamchatka Gull shows a p8 mirror (limited to the inner web).
  3. With advanced digital photography now a common fixture in birding, quality photos of individual gulls are becoming increasingly revealing. The 2nd cycle type Black-legged Kittiwake observed in Will County, Illinois early in the month, was observed and photographed in St. Clair County, Michigan 8 days later (a distance of ~300 miles). Also, Ohio's 1st Slaty-backed Gull proved to be one of the adults seen in Brant County, Ontario a month earlier, traveling a short distance of 170 miles, likely straight across Lake Erie.