18 October 2014

Two Hatch Year Herrings

I found this gorgeous juvenile American Herring last weekend that has now been put on my "Top 10" juvenile HERG sightings (I really do keep such a list for several common species):

Herring Gull (1st cycle). New Buffalo, MI. 12 Oct 2014.
Aside from the petite bill (which might not be done growing) and crisp upperwing coverts, the tertials have a striking pattern to them. The visible pale notches along the tips and ribbed-effect along the tertial edges is not found in the majority of individuals. The primary tips show small pale tips (not uncommon in HY Herrings) which contrast nicely with the entire bird.

Can you count the tertials on the right side? 
Now compare this other HY Herring that was photographed a few moments later on the same stretch of beach:

Herring Gull (1st cycle). New Buffalo, MI. 12 Oct 2014.

This individual is rather worn and bleached for mid-October, but the condition of its plumage is not uncommon for many of the HERGs that are thought to have hatched locally in the Great Lakes region. The former Herring above might be suspected of hatching later in the season at a more northern latitude, but one can't be entirely sure. 

Here are the two together:

The worn Herring on the bottom looks like it was put on "high-cycle" in a washer and left to dry
under the hot Texas sunlight on a warm afternoon.

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