09 February 2016

February Franklin's - Lake County Illinois

Every winter a few random Franklin's Gulls are reported in North America, well ahead of schedule in timing and molt. Unsurprisingly, they almost always seem to be adults, presumably individuals with hyper-hormones that are eager to get to the breeding grounds. This winter seems to be an above average season for them, with multiple birds reported in the interior.

On Sunday, visiting Swedish birder Tobias Ljungquist and I had this stunning alternate adult on Lake Michigan in northern Illinois:

Lake County, IL; 07 February 2016.
Tobias spotted the "black-headed" gull which appeared very out of place on the ice with our winter Herrings. This is no where near as exciting as the Kelp Gull recently seen in Los Angeles County, CA or the winter Sabine's all the way north in Newfoundland, but this is MY first February Franklin's here on Lake Michigan.