22 April 2011

One-day Gull Records

One often hears folks boasting about their twenty-some species of warblers seen in one day. Not many birders brag about their daily high-counts of gull species, and this is probably because only 7-8 species is considered well above average for most regions. After doing a little research, I found that "14 species of gulls" is the one-day North American record (and likely the world record).

These 14 species were recorded along the Niagara River on 25 NOV 1995 by four birders from Ontario (Willie D’ Anna, Dean Di Tommaso, Rob French and Nancy French). Here is the list of birds they saw in less than 24 hours: Franklin’s Gull, Little Gull, Bonaparte’s Gull, Ring‐billed Gull, California Gull, Herring Gull, Thayer’s Gull, Kumlien's Iceland Gull, Lesser Black‐backed Gull, Glaucous Gull, Great Black‐backed Gull, Sabine’s Gull, Black‐legged Kittiwake and Ross’s Gull. The birds were observed along a 30 mile stretch.

Gulls in late fall at Niagara Falls. Drawing: Peter Lorimer
I recently stumbled upon a contender that ties this record. Dave Brown out of the St. John's area in Newfoundland has mentioned to me that he's seen 14 species in one day on more than one occasion. Here is his most recent list from 1 DEC 2010: Great Black-backed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Kumlien's Iceland Gull, Thayer's Gull, Glaucous Gull, Herring Gull, Ring-billed Gull, Common Gull, Black-headed Gull, Slaty-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Black-tailed Gull, Bonaparte's Gull, and Black-legged Kittiwake. The birds were all observed in St. John's.

There have also been rumors of a 14-gull day in South Dakota, outside of the Pierre area. I've not been able to confirm this record.