03 December 2011

Montrose Lesser Black-backed and Glaucous Gulls

Chicago's lakefront received its first notable installment of northern gulls on Friday, 2 December 2011. A 2nd cycle Glaucous Gull was found at Monroe Harbor by Ari Rice and then shortly after, a 2nd cycle Lesser Black-backed Gull was found by Steve Spitzer at Montrose Beach. I arrived at Montrose around 2:00 p.m. hoping to photograph the LBBG, but immediately found a 1st cycle Glaucous Gull instead.

1st cycle Glaucous Gull. Montrose Beach. Chicago, IL. 2 DEC 2011. Photo by Steve Spitzer.
I ran into Leo Miller on the pier who was also looking for the Lesser Black-backed. I could see several large gulls feeding along the shore towards the Dog Beach and so we made our way down there. To our delight, the LBBG was still there with several Herrings:

2nd cycle Lesser Black-backed Gull. Montrose Beach. Chicago, IL. 2 DEC 2011. Photo by Amar Ayyash.

This fellow was on the large end, matching or exceeding most of the surrounding Herrings in body size. I recently wrote a piece on Lesser Black-backed's status in North America and speculated that if this species is found breeding in the states, it would do well side-by-side with American Herring. I stand by that statement and feel Lessers are more than capable of competing with that species. In fact, the only known nesting occurrences of LBBG in the United States is that of hybrid pairings with American Herring.

I recorded an amateur video of this individual fending off a handful of Herring's as it fed on a dead fish along the shore: