22 April 2014

Return of the Laugh-ring Gull

After going unnoticed for 18 months, the putative Laughing x Ring-billed adult, that frequents Chicago's southeast side, made a surprise appearance at Calumet Park.

Presumed Laughing x Ring-billed. Chicago, IL. 20 April 2014.
I had been feeding Ring-billeds from the pier for about 5 minutes, when I suddenly heard a series of high-pitched mews from behind me. I said to myself, "It can't be", and sure enough, after searching for the noisemaker, I found the hybrid coming right for me. It made several close passes before ascending and heading up towards the old "state line energy plant".

It's thought to have been the offspring of a Laughing/Ring-billed pair from years ago at Lake Calumet in Chicago (the first and only confirmed record of Laughing Gull breeding in Illinois). The "offspring theory" was never verified, but the hybrid was noticed after the breeding record (by Walter Marcisz and company in 2004 at a KFC near the state line).

Here's hoping for many more years of enjoying the presence of this very unique-looking gull!