13 November 2015

Switch Up - 10 Species of Gull and 3 Hybrids

Nothing like a little November air to get things moving. Consistent westerlys have been whipping strongly here on southern Lake Michigan for the last 72 hours.

Yesterday, 12 November 2015, I found 2 Black-legged Kittiwakes at Calumet Park on the Illinois/Indiana state line (first of the season). This was somewhat unexpected considering they came in on the "wrong" winds. I was out looking for Franklin's - which I found with little effort - and did a double-take when I spotted both kittiwakes together, wheeling, some 3/4 mile off shore.

Today, 13 November 2015, I had my best day of the season with 9 species and 3 putative hybrids in Berrien County, Michigan.
  1. BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE (2 juveniles; 13 Nov 2015)
  2. Herring Gull (750)
  3. Ring-billed (450)
  4. Great Black-backed Gull (2 - adult type, 2nd cycle)
  5. Lesser Black-backed Gull (5 - adult type, 4 juveniles)
  6. Thayer's Gull (adult)
  7. Kumlien's Gull (2nd cycle)
  8. CALIFORNIA GULL (2nd cycle)
  9. Franklin's Gull (27 adults, 6 1st cycles)
  10. Bonaparte's Gulls (44 adults & 3 1st cycles)

Putative Hybrids: 
  1. Kelp x Herring (adult type - continuing)
  2. GLAUCOUS-WINGED x HERRING (1st cycle)
  3. Glaucous x Herring (adult - textbook)
(1 of 8) Presumed Glaucous-winged x Herring. Berrien County, Michigan. 13 November 2015.

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(4 of 8) With Herrings.

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(1 of 3) California Gull (2nd cycle). Berrien County, Michigan. 13 November 2015.
Superficially resembles a similar-aged Herring Gull. Greenish-gray leg color, downward gape and post-ocular line are classic CAGU marks. Relatively bulky size can possibly be attributed to subspecies, L.c. albertaensis.

(2 of 3)

(3 of 3) Inner primary window is less prominent than similar-aged Herrings. Greater coverts largely dark-centered.

(1 of 3) Kumlien's Iceland Gull (2nd cycle). Berrien County, Michigan. 13 November 2015.

(2 of 3) With 2nd cycle Herring and Ring-billed Gulls.

(3 of 3) Outer primaries are okay for kumlieni. Rectrices are relatively dark for this taxon.

(1 of 2) Franklin's Gull (adult). Berrien County, Michigan. 13 November 2015.

(2 of 2) With adult Ring-billed Gull.

(1 of 2) Great Black-backed Gull (2nd cycle). A small individual similar in size to the surrounding Herrings. Almost certainly a female. Berrien County, Michigan. 13 November 2015.
(2 of 2) Great Black-backed Gull (left) with putative Cook Inlet hybrid (center) and Herrings. This GBBG is no bigger than the surrounding HERGs - one of the smallest I've seen to date. Berrien County, Michigan. 13 November 2015.
2nd cycle Herring & 1st cycle Lesser Black-backed Gull. 1 of 4 juvenile Lessers present today. Berrien County, Michigan. 13 November 2015.

                       Lesser Black-backed Gull (juvenile). Berrien County, Michigan. 13 November 2015.



  1. The hybrid Glaucous-winged X Herring is a stunning looking bird, the chocolate tipped median coverts and cream tipped scaps are quite beautiful ...
    I hope for a Franklin's Gull in the U.K.

    1. Hi, Mike. Yes, that hybrid was definitely one of the day's highlights! I'm going to bet you guys land a Franklin's in the next couple weeks. Best.

  2. Hi Amar, do you have a pic of the Cook-Inlet-Hyb in flight? Or maybe a photo of another one in flight. I#d be curious how 1st cycle smith x galucescens looks on inner primaries. It has a weird shawl, this bird - great one!

    1. Hey, Lou. Photos 1-8 are all of the Cook-Inlet. Inner primaries are strikingly similar to Thayer's.