01 May 2024

April 2024 Monthly Notables

Sightings:

  1. Black-headed Gull (adult). Contra Costa County, California. 01 April 2024.
  2. Short-billed Gull (1st cycle). Roberts County, South Dakota. 14 April 2024.
  3. Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Marquette County, Michigan.16 April 2024.
  4. Western Gull (adult type). Washington County, Utah. 18 April 2024. 
  5. Great Black-backed Gull (subadult). Mobile County, Alabama. 21 April 2024.
  6. Yellow-footed Gull (adult type). Los Angeles County, California. 21 April 2024.
  7. Gray Gull (3rd cycle type). Baldwin County, Alabama. 23 April 2024.
    • Continuing 1st ABA Record.
  8. Little Gull (1st cycle). Del Norte County, California. 23 April 2024.
    • 3rd County Record.
  9. Swallow-tailed Gull (adult). San Francisco County, California. 25 April 2024.
    • 2nd County Record.
  10. Black-legged Kittiwake (1st cycle). Cameron Parish, Louisiana. 25 April 2024.
Notes:
  1. The Swallow-tailed Gull from San Francisco County was found on Southeast Farallon Island -- a first island record. As all other records in the ABA Area, it was sporting a dark hood in alternate plumage. Active tail and innermost secondary molt.
  2. On 20 April 2024, Woody Goss reported 2 putative Kelp x Herring hybrids from Galveston County, Texas (adult and 3rd cycle type). Both in breeding condition with alternate head patterns but showing the expected grayish-yellow leg color of many Kelps. Neither had started flight feather molt. The 3rd cycle type was the more classic of the two with blob-tipped bill, blocky head and longish legs. It displayed the expected small, squarish p10 mirror set well back from the feather tip and long hand in flight. The adult type was slighter and could easily be passed off as a Lesser Black-backed, structurally, but showed too much gray (not black) on the underside of the wingtip, and noticeably large p7 pearl. Hybrid Lesser Black-backed x Herrings average less black on p8 (particularly the inner web), and don't typically show this dull leg color. 

April 2024 Quiz

 

California. January.

Age: 1st cycle in what appears to be complete juvenile plumage.

Identification: This juvenile is clearly a member of the large white-headed gulls (as opposed to smaller tern-like or hooded gulls). Some Slaty-backed Gulls can approach this look, especially the plain pattern to the greater coverts, paired with pale bases to the median coverts showing pointy dark tips. However, the massively thick bill, large head with proportionally small eye placed high on the face, call to mind Western and Glaucous-winged. The primaries are too dark for Glaucous-winged and too pale for Western (which doesn't show this extensive pale edging). The neatly pattern coverts (which we've noted can be found in Slaty-backed at this age) are also expected in hybrid Western x Glaucous-winged, which is what this individual was identified as. Herring x Glaucous-winged Gull is another taxon to consider, which often shows a slighter, Herring-like build, averages a thinner bill and streakier head at this date.


01 April 2024

March 2024 Quiz

Illinois. October.

Age: The overall plumage aspects of the two big brown jobs suggest 1st cycle. The center bird is an adult-type.

Identification: The adult in the center is a Ring-billed, with what appears to be a chunkier and slightly larger 1st cycle on the left and a slightly smaller gull on the right.

Note the darker brown centers to the upperparts on the individual on the right, showing broader and more consistent pale fringes. The bill appears thinner and jet black, with paler vent region. This is a 1st cycle Lesser Black-backed Gull in complete juvenile plumage. The individual on the left has a deeper chest, a weaker pattern to the coverts and what appear to be replaced juvenile scapulars. It falls squarely in the mold of a 1st cycle American Herring Gull. 


March 2024 Monthly Notables

Sightings:

  1. Kamchatka Gull (adult). Fairfield County, Connecticut. 01 March 2024.
    • Last sighting of the winter season. 
  2. Thayer's Gull (adult). Virginia Beach County, Virginia. 03 March 2024.
  3. Thayer's Gull (1st cycle). Cape May County, New Jersey. 04 March 2024.
  4. GRAY GULL* (3rd cycle type). Baldwin County, Alabama. 14 March 2024.
    • Plumage sequence suggests same individual from Walton County, FL, last seen on 03 December 2023.
  5. Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Cowlitz County, Washington. 08 March 2024.
  6. Vega Gull (adult). San Mateo County, California. 10 March 2024.
  7. Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Multnomah County, Oregon. 11 March 2024.
    • Same individual from Cowlitz County, WA; also seen in Clark on 12 March 2024.
  8. Ivory Gull (adult). North Slope Borough, Alaska. 11 March 2024.
  9. Little Gull (adult). Starr County, Texas. 17 March 2024.
  10. Common Gull (adult). Windham County, Connecticut. 20 March 2024.
  11. Great Black-backed Gull (1st cycle). North Okanagan District, British Columbia. 22 March 2024.
    • Continuing since December 2023.
  12. Vega Gull (adult). Tompkins County, New York. 23 March 2024.
    • Likely an individual first detected in this region in mid-December 2023.
  13. Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Anchorage Municipality, Alaska. 25 March 2024.
  14. Black-headed Gull (adult). Contra Costa County, California. 26 March 2024.
  15. Heermann's Gull (2nd cycle). Alberni-Clayoquot District, British Columbia. 26 March 2024.


Notes:
 
* The Florida-Alabama Gray Gull was relocated in Baldwin County, Alabama on 14 March 2024 and continues through 31 March 2024. It appears to be undergoing a 3rd prealternate molt with fresh scapulars and a paling gray head. It is safe to say this bird has adjusted to a boreal molt schedule and should be sporting an all-pale hood in the next few weeks.

02 March 2024

February 2024 Monthly Notables

Sightings:

  1. Short-billed Gull (adult). Fairfield County, Connecticut. 01 February 2024.
    • Presumably a returning individual, found in same flock as Kamchatka Gull.
  2. Glaucous-winged Gull (3rd cycle). Tompkins County, New York. 03 February 2024.
    • Same individual found in Orange County, NY; Jan 2024.
  3. Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Wayne County, Michigan. 03 February 2024.
  4. Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Niagara County, Ontario. 04 February 2024.
  5. Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Benton County, Washington. 04 February 2024.
    • Continuing, returning bird.
  6. Thayer's Gull (1st cycle). Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia. 04 February 2024.
  7. Black-legged Kittiwake (adult type). Duval County, Florida. 04 February 2024.
  8. California Gull (2nd cycle). Galveston County, Texas. 04 February 2024.
  9. California Gull (adult). Harris County, Texas. 05 February 2024.
  10. Little Gull (1st cycle). Cochise County, Arizona. 06 February 2024.
    • Apparent 3rd State Record.
  11. Common Gull (adult). Washington County, Maine. 07 February 2024.
  12. Great Black-backed Gull (1st cycle). North Okanagan District, British Columbia. 09 February 2024.
  13. Black-legged Kittiwake (adult). Dade County, Missouri. 09 February 2024.
  14. Yellow-footed Gull (3rd cycle/ad.). Clark County, Nevada. 10 February 2024.
    • Continuing. 
  15. Sabine's Gull (adult). Clatsop County, Washington. 12 February 2024.
  16. Black-legged Kittiwake (adult). Hamilton County, Tennesse. 13 February 2024.
  17. California Gull (adult). Dare County, North Carolina. 14 February 2024.
  18. California Gull (adult). Harris County, Texas. 16 February 2024.
    • A larger and paler individual than that from 05 February 2024.
  19. Black-legged Kittiwake (1st cycle). Cameron Parish, Louisiana. 17 February 2024.
  20. Glaucous-winged Gull (adult). Sauk County, Wisconsin. 17 February 2024.
    • 8th State Record. Same individual found in Lake County, Illinois; Jan 2024.
  21. Glaucous Gull (1st cycle). San Diego County, California. 19 February 2024.
  22. Thayer's Gull (adult). Virginia Beach County, Virginia. 21 February 2024.
  23. Thayer's Gull (2 ad.). Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia. 24 February 2024.
  24. California Gull (2nd cycle). Lake County, Illinois. 27 February 2024.
  25. Heermann's Gull (5th cycle/ad.). Volusia County, Florida. 29 February 2024.
    • Atlantic Coast bird now in 5th alternate plumage.
  26. Kamchatka Gull (adult). Fairfield County, Connecticut. 29 February 2024.
    • Continuing 

01 March 2024

February 2024 Quiz

 

Illinois. December.

Age: A somewhat cryptic plumage aspect that initially suggests 1st cycle. However, looking closely at p10, there is a small mirror seen on both wings. The axillaries are contrastingly pale, which also points away from a 1st cycle, but admittedly, this ties directly with identification discussed below. The pattern on the secondaries on the far wing is plain and irregularly colored, and the tongues on p6-p8 are deep and neatly demarcated, which combine for a 2nd cycle large gull.

Identification: This individual has a fairly small head, gentle bill and apparent small body, making for a docile appearance. The grayish-brown plumage aspect seems uniform and points away from species such as Herring, which are decidedly darker brown with greater contrast throughout. Importantly, the underside to the outer primaries is typical of a "pale-winged" species, such as Iceland and Glaucous-winged. Given the apparent size and structure, and pattern to the upperside of the outer primaries (far wing), we can comfortably rule out Glaucous-winged. 

Our February Quiz bird is a 2nd cycle type Thayer's Gull.

01 February 2024

January 2024 Quiz

 

January. Oregon.
Age: This large white-headed gull shows an overall adult aspect, but with noticeable tail markings, brownish-gray wash across the upperwing, streaked primary coverts and an all-dark bill tip, suggesting a 3rd cycle type.

Identification: This is a broad-winged bird with a fairly short hand. The robust bill and large powerful body point to a bulky taxon, ruling out smaller and slimmer taxa found in the West. Given the location, Western and Glaucous-winged Gull should come to mind. The gray upperparts seem too dark for Glaucous-winged, but may fit a paler northern occidentalis Western. However, the outer primaries show a distinctive grayish coloration, and not the jet black expected in Western. This wingtip pattern and color fits perfectly for a Western x Glaucous-winged hybrid, however, and that's what our January Quiz bird was identified as in the field.