24 January 2015

First Cycle Herrings From East-Central Florida

A few first winter Herrings from the last two days. 

The almost all juvenile plumage on this bird got my attention. After sorting through more and more 1st cycle Herrings here, I've realized quite a few appear this neat and show "durable" juvenile plumages. The upperparts are exceptional for this time of year.

Herring Gull (1st cycle). Daytona Beach Shores, FL. 24 Jan 2015.
Same individual above. 
This next bird has also retained most of its juvenile plumage but is sleeker and has an attenuated look to the rear:
Herring Gull (1st cycle). Daytona Beach Shores, FL. 24 Jan 2015.
The tail pattern on this gull is not typical of 1st cycle American Herring, but perhaps within range. Besides being rather thin, there's limited pigmentation coming up the edges of both outer rectrices. The uppertail coverts are sparsely marked in comparison to the average Smithsonianus.

Next up is a pale, beefy individual, also holding on well to its first basic (juvenile) plumage:

Herring Gull (1st cycle). Cocoa, FL. 24 Jan 2015.

Finally, here's a first cycle that has renewed some of its scapulars, but shows a few interesting features:

Herring Gull (1st cycle). Daytona Beach Shores, FL. 24 Jan 2015.
Its jizz is reminiscint of something along the lines of Glaucous-winged or Slaty-backed. The pale edging to the primaries is rather noticeable. I did photograph it in the middle of preening and so the tertials are raised and the secondaries are drooping, as well as the lower belly feathers puffed out - something to consider when judging single photos. The faded and slightly worn greater coverts also superficially resemble what I'd be looking for in a 1st winter Slaty-backed.

There are lots of neat looking 1st winter Herrings to sort through down here. Much variation and difficult to relegate them to one or two plumage aspects...more details later.