I'm often doubtful when it comes to aging Herrings such as the one below. Before reading any further, take a moment to age this individual:
|(1) 2nd or 3rd cycle American Herring. Lake County, Illinois. 26 November 2015.|
The bird below is reason to reevaluate our approach to aging 2nd and 3rd cycle types:
|(2) Herring Gull. New Buffalo, Michigan. 22 December 2015.|
I'll be honest though, there hasn't been a time where I've seen inner primaries like #2 and haven't wondered if these "adult-like" inner primaries can be advanced 2nd basic primaries. However, I've yet to find this on any of the known-age 2nd cycles that I've recorded.
The next two birds have more obvious adult-like inner primaries on what otherwise may pass for a 2nd cycle type Herring:
|(3) 3rd cycle type Herring Gull. Chicago, Illinois. 22 November 2015.|
|(4) 3rd cycle type Herring Gull. Whiting, Indiana. 25 January 2013.|
|(4) 2nd cycle type Herring. Chicago, IL. 26 October 2012.|
But now what if these inner primaries appear to be 2nd generation, but with a p10 mirror?! This next bird has halted my confidence in aging 2nd/3rd cycle type Herrings with this plumage aspect:
|(5) 2nd or 3rd cycle type American Herring Gull. Lake County, Illinois. 25 December 2015.|
The next two birds have similar plumage aspects, but are presumably a generation apart:
|(6) 2nd cycle type Herring Gull. Daytona Beach Shores, Florida. 23 January 2015.|
|(7) 3rd cycle type Herring Gull. New Buffalo, Michigan. 28 September 2014.|
Questions for Consideration:
- Are the inner primaries (p1-p3) in open wing #7 sufficiently "adult-like"?
- Are there known-age 3rd cycle Herrings with retarded inner primaries such as #5?
- Are there known-age 2nd cyles with "advanced" innermost primaries as seen in #2?
- What, if any, are some reoccurring patterns on the secondaries of individuals that have apparent adult-like inner primaries?
- Can the pattern on the primary coverts be a clue to aging these adult-like inner primaries?
- Could some of these individuals be "advanced" 2nd cycles that may require 5 plumage cycles to attain definitive adult basic?