28 November 2015

1st Cycle Herring with Limited Black on Outer Tail Feathers

Another 1st cycle Herring with white bases to the outer rectrices:

(1) Lake County, Illinois. 27 November 2015. 
I don't intentionally go looking for these odd Herrings, but they're hard to ignore when they get in my line of sight.



Whether this tail pattern represents an extreme end for American Herring, or is truly representative of something "else" is still out of my reach.  I heard Vega & Euro Herg tossed around loosely after posting these pics on Facebook. I've never been one to try to label a foreign-looking bird before trying to eliminate the most expected species. The fact that I encounter these tail patterns with some regularity is most fascinating.



The plumage aspect, renewed scaps, bleaching head and pale bill base is similar to one of my local resident Herrings (as opposed to a crisp "Northern" hatch year bird). For now, I'll continue to collect these images and hope they'll one day shed some light on Herrings across North America. I mentioned recently that much of our identifications will remain mysterious until we get gull enthusiasts side-by-side with biologists/ornithologists in the breeding colonies!