01 September 2020

Monthly Notables August 2020

  • Glaucous Gull (2nd cycle). Glynn County, Georgia. 01 August 2020.
    • Continuing from June 2020.
  • Thayer's Gull (2nd cycle). Lorain County, Ohio. 02 August 2020.
  • Laughing Gull (juvenile). Monroe County, New York. 03 August 2020.
  • Franklin's Gull (adult type). Worcester County, Maryland. 03 August 2020.
  • California Gull (2nd cycle). Sangamon County, Illinois. 04 August 2020.
    • Continuing from July 2020.
  • Franklin's Gull (adult). Essex County, Massachusetts. 04 August 2020.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (3rd cycle). Portage la Prairie Area County, Manitoba. 07 August 2020.
  • Franklin's Gull (adult). Kings County, Prince Edward Island. 08 August 2020.
    • 2nd Province record, which comes less than two weeks after the 1st province record.
  • California Gull (2nd cycle). Wagoner County, Oklahoma. 09 August 2020.
  • Laughing Gull (adult type). Marin County, California. 15 August 2020.
  • Great Black-backed Gull (2nd cycle). Cook County, Illinois. 18 August 2020.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (2nd cycle). Capital District, British Columbia. 21 August 2020.
    • 2nd Vancouver Island record.
  • Little Gull (juvenile). Stark County, Ohio. 23 August 2020.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (juvenile). Erie County, New York. 25 August 2020.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (2nd cycle). Central Okanagan District, British Columbia. 26 August 2020. 
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (2nd cycle). Clallam County, Washington. 27 August 2020.
    • 3rd County Record.
  • Laughing Gull (juvenile). Niagara County, Ontario. 27 August 2020.
  • Laughing Gull (juvenile). Erie County, New York. 27 August 2020.
    • Same individual as Niagara County, Ontario.
  • Sabine's Gull (2nd cycle type). Lake County, Tennessee. 27 August 2020.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Anchorage County, Alaska. 26 August 2020.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (3rd cycle). Kenai Peninsula County, Alaska. 27 August 2020.
  • Little Gull (juvenile). Highland County, Ohio. 29 August 2020.
  • Laughing Gull (2nd cycle). Eddy County, New Mexico. 29 August 2020.
  • Heermann's Gull (1st cycle). Skagway-Hoonah-Angoon County, Alaska. 29 August 2020.
  • Little Gull (juvenile). Kossouth County, Iowa. 30 August 2020

  1. August saw countless reports of juvenile Heermann's Gulls all along the California, Oregon and Washington coast. The breeding season of 2020 proved to be a banner year with respect to breeding success, one that has not been witnessed for the last 3-4 years.  

31 August 2020

August 2020 Quiz

Massachusetts. July. 

Age: The outer primaries on both individuals are tattered and faded, but the upperparts are largely new. There are obvious molt gaps throughout the upperwing coverts, especially the greater coverts. Both birds appear to be in their 2nd molt cycle with retained juvenile primaries

Identification: The size difference seen here is real, as can be seen from the bill and head dimensions, as well as body and leg girth. The individual on the left is a standard 2nd cycle Great Black-backed Gull with white body, checkered upperparts and a stout bill. On the right, we see a thin bill, sleek rear to the body, and what looks like a svelte, long-winged gull. The upperparts are too solidly dark and checkered for a 2nd cycle Herring, and the clean white underparts also don't evoke thoughts of that species. This bird is a Lesser Black-backed with a somewhat cleaner white head and neck than average, and upperparts that still don't show any signs of adult-like gray. The bicolored bill is also more advanced than many similar-aged Lessers which typically have more black blended through the bill base. Here's my idea of a more average-looking LBBG for comparison.

Of interest here is that GBBG and LBBG don't often look this similar at one year of age, but these two are surprisingly similar. Size and structure are very helpful here.

01 August 2020

Monthly Notables July 2020

  • Glaucous Gull (2nd cycle). Glynn County, Georgia. 01 July 2020.
    • Continuing from June.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (2nd cycle). Clark County, Ohio. 02 July 2020.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (adult type). Del Norte County, California. 08-18 July 2020.
  • Franklin's Gull (2nd cycle). Orange County, New York. 10 July 2020.
  • Glaucous Gull (2nd cycle). Talbot County, Maryland. 10 July 2020.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Kenai Peninsula County, Alaska. 10 July 2020.
  • Black-headed Gull (adult). Lorain County, Ohio. 11 July 2020.
  • Sabine's Gull (adult). Barnstable County, Massachusetts. 12 July 2020.
  • Heermann's Gull (2nd cycle). Duval County, Florida. 12 July 2020.
    • Present on the eastern FL coast since August 2019. 
    • Now well into its 2nd prebasic molt with p1-p7 replaced. 
  • California Gull (2nd cycle). Alfalfa County, Oklahoma. 15 July 2020.
  • California Gull (2nd cycle). Springfield County, Illinois. 19 July 2020.
  • Great Black-backed Gull (2nd cycle). Mobile County, Alabama. 19 July 2020.
    • Continuing from June. 
  • Ring-billed Gull (adult). Skagway-Hoonah-Angoon County, Alaska. 19 July 2020.
  • California Gull (2nd cycle). Delaware County, Ohio. 21 July 2020.
  • Black-headed Gull (juvenile). Dillingham County, Alaska. 22 July 2020.
  • Franklin's Gull (adult). Barnstable County, Massachusetts. 26 July 2020. 
  • Franklin's Gull (2nd cycle type). Prince County, Prince Edward Island. 27 July 2020.
  • Laughing Gull (adult type). Keith County, Nebraska. 28 July 2020.

31 July 2020

July 2020 Quiz


Age: This appears to be a large, four-year gull. Based on the rounded primary tips, muted pattern to the inner primaries and wing coverts, moderate gray on the back, and largely white tail coverts, we can safely assume this is a 2nd cycle. A 1st cycle holding on to all its flight feathers would likely show less gray on the back, and patterned uppertail coverts and greater coverts. A 3rd cycle would show adult-like primaries, or at the very least, adult-like inner primaries, which this individual does not. 

Identification: Based on the darker gray scapulars that have come in, we can eliminate paler-backed species such as the Iceland Gulls, Herring Gull and even Glaucous-winged Gull. One may ask, how do we correctly interpret the gray on the back, and this could be done by judging the white on the uppertail coverts. The white on the uppertail is a true white -- not blown out and not covered in shadow. Thus, we can visually measure the contrast between the gray upperparts and the uppertail to get a sense of gray values.

This is a broad-winged bird with noticeable white tips across the secondaries. It looks too broad winged for Lesser Black-backed and the bill appears too heavy for that species too. Judging from the swollen bill appearance and smudged head and dusky neck markings, this bird best fits a 2nd cycle Western Gull, and is actually a fairly typical bird. A 2nd cycle Yellow-footed Gull at this time of year would show some indication of adult-like flight feathers and should perhaps average more gray on the upperwing coverts. The date and location also support Western Gull. 

01 July 2020

Monthly Notables June 2020


  • Glaucous Gull (2nd cycle). Lincoln County, Oregon. 01 June 2020.
    • Continuing. Apparently only the second "June" record, locally.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (adult). Montreal County, Quebec.03 June 2020.
  • Sabine's Gull (adult). La Vallee-de-l-'Or County, Quebec. 04 June 2020.
  • Franklin's Gull (2nd cycle type). New London County, Connecticut. 05 June 2020.
  • Laughing Gull (2 - 2nd cycles). Lycoming County, Pennsylvania. 10 June 2020.
    • 2nd County Record. 
  • Glaucous-winged Gull (2nd cycle). Wichita County, Texas. 08 June 2020.
    • Pending acceptance. Would be 2nd State Record. 
  • Great Black-backed Gull (2nd cycle). Lake County, Illinois. 10 June 2020.
  • Laughing Gull (2nd cycle). Manitowoc County, Wisconsin. 11 June 2020.
  • Black-headed Gull (adult). Cape Many County, New Jersey. 13 June 2020.
  • Glaucous Gull (2nd cycle). Glynn County, Georgia. 13 June 2020.
  • Laughing Gull (adult). Jackson County, Colorado. 13 June  2020.
  • Iceland Gull (2nd cycle). Allegan County, Michigan. 15 June 2020.
  • Laughing Gull (2nd cycle). Cerro Gordo County, Iowa. 15 June 2020.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (adult). Albany County, Wyoming. 16 June 2020.
  • Black-headed Gull (adult). Queen Anne's County, Maryland. 19 June 2020.
    • 1st County Record. First summer record for MD since 2008.
  • Black-headed Gull (adult). Bay County, Michigan. 20 June 2020.
    • 2nd County Record. Last seen in Bay County in December 1981. 
  • Franklin's Gull (adult). Barnstable County, Massachusetts. 21 June 2020.
  • Heermann's Gull (2nd cycle). Duval County, Florida. 21 June 2020.
    • Now in it's 2nd plumage cycle. Same individual since August 2019.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (adult). Mendocino County, California. 22 June 2020.
  • Franklin's Gull (1st cycle type). Macomb County, Michigan. 25 June 2020.
  • Sabine's Gull (2nd cycle type). Los Angeles County, California. 27 June 2020.

  • The biggest surprise this month was the apparent Glaucous-winged type from Wichita County, Texas. It looks like a bona fide Glaucous-winged Gull, but bleaching on the primaries makes it impossible to ascertain previous patterns. Uppertail pattern favors Glaucous-winged Gull over a hybrid.
    • 08 June 2020 - 2nd prebasic molt in motion with p1-p2 missing.
    • 11 June 2020 - new p1 barely visible, just beyond primary coverts.
    • 12 June 2020 - p3 missing, new p1 now clearly visible well beyond p-coverts.
  • The other highlight this month is alternate adult Black-headed Gulls found in random places that they're not usually expected in the summer. Most notable is Bay County, Michigan which had not seen this species in the county in 39 years, and is now a first summer record. 
  • Finally, summering Lesser Black-backeds in the interior continue to increase in the summer season, especially for the last 3 consecutive years. Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska all reported 1-3 birds each. All of these individuals, expect for Wyoming, appear to be one-year-olds beginning their 2nd plumage cycles. 

June 2020 Quiz

June. Wisconsin.

Age:  It's safe to assume this is a 1st cycle based ont the black terminal band on the tail.

Identification: Our June bird appears to be a small, two-cycle, gull. The small, pointy bill, black pseudo-hood and thin black tips to the primaries immediately evoke Little Gull and Bonaparte's. It's difficult to judge bill proportions here, but Black-headed is safely ruled out not only by the bill's color, but also by the white under side to the primaries. As for Bonaparte's, that species would show a prominent black trailing edge running across all of the remiges. Here's an example of a typical trailing edge on Bonaparte's:

Instead, what we see here is a "spotty" black trailing edge that is discontinuous and weakly patterned, which leaves us with Little Gull.

01 June 2020

Monthly Notables May 2020

  • 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.