Iowa. Numbers increase in earnest as soon as the fall season begins, peaking in late September and through the first couple of weeks of October. The most notable massings are found at Saylorville Lake (the famed Midwestern lake that hosted the 2007 Black-tailed Gull) and Lake Red Rock (Iowa's largest lake).
|Both resevoirs were built by the Army Corps of Engineers to control water levels along the Des Moines River Valley|
As a denizen of the Chicago area, I had never observed more than 3 Franklin's at once and so I planned a trip out to these lakes in order to better familiarize myself with the "Prairie Dove". An obvious observation that I soon made was that the Franklin's are not very interested in the fish that the lake holds, but rather, this species hawks the area skies for insects. Also, hundreds of individuals can be found working the recently plowed agriculture fields. The birds begin to disperse soon after sunrsie only to return as the sun begins to set. Any description I offer to describe this spectacle would be deficient at best. Here's a photo that depicts this magic!
|Saylorville Lake, by Amar Ayyash, 10 October 2010|
With the sun to my back, I began counting the number of individuals with a pink suffusion on the underparts. I was a little disappointed with what seemed like a low ratio of 14:378. Franklin's consistenlty show this pink coloration much more than other gulls (Ross's Gull is a close 2nd). What I soon discovered after returning home is that this pink blemish is most common in breeding-condition adults; This is coupled with reddish legs and the reddish bill found on breeding birds.