31 January 2017

Monthly Notables January 2017

  • Mew Gull (1st cycle). Will County, Illinois. 01 January 2017.
  • Western Gull (1st cycle). Salt Lake County, Utah. 01 January 2017.
    • Continuing all winter. Here since October 2016.
  • Iceland Gull (adult). Flathead County, Montana. 01 January 2017.
    • Nominate glaucoides candidate.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Pierce County, Washington. 01 January 2017,
    • Continuing. Reoccurring. One of 3 in the state this month.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Niagara County, New York. 01 January 2017.
    • Seen crossing back and forth into Niagara County, Ontario. 
  • Franklin's Gull (2nd cycle). Volusia County, Florida. 02 January 2017.
  • Common Gull (adult). Somerset County, New Jersey. 03 January 2017.
    • 2nd state record. Head streaking, relatively thick bill and slightly darker upperparts than Ring-billed suggest nominate canus.
  • Laughing Gull (1st cycle). Colfax County, New Mexico. 02 January 2017.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Walla Walla County, Washington. 07 January 2016.
    • Presumably back for a second winter.
  • Vega Gull (adult). Cameron County, Texas. 07 January 2017.
    • Presumably back for a third winter.
  • Iceland Gull (1st cycle). Salt Lake County, Utah. 02 January 2017. 
  • Kumlien's Gull (1st cycle). Stanislaus County, Califormia. 08 January 2017.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (2nd cycle). Monterey County, California. 09 January 2017.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (3rd cycle). Clallam County, Washington. 12 January 2017.
  • Ross's Gull (adult). San Mateo County, California. 12 January 2017.
    • 2nd state record. A pair of Peregrine Falcons depredated this individual mid-afternoon on 14 January 2017. The bird appeared healthy and was actively feeding on worms before its demise.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (2nd cycle type). San Mateo County, California. 14 January 2017.
  • Black-tailed Gull (1st cycle). Monterey County, California. 13 January 2017.
    • Only 3 accepted records for the state prior to this. First county record.
  • California Gull (adult). Winnebago County, Wisconsin. 16 January 2017.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (1st cycle). San Diego County, California. 16 January 2017.
    • Photos of a very convincing 2nd calendar year bird of what is almost undeniably a young Slaty-backed Gull - the first of its kind to be identified with such broad consensus in North America. This will be a 1st county record.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (adult). Lincoln County, Oregon. 17 January 2017.
  • Heermann's Gull (adult). Clark County, Nevada. 21 January 2017.
  • Ross's Gull (1st cycle). Franklin County, New York. 25 January 2017.
    • Only a couple records of this plumage in the lower 48 states. Excellent audio recording obtained by Andrew Spencer - perhaps the first time this age group has been recorded!
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Erie County, Pennsylvania. 27 January 2017
  • Mew Gull (adult type). Kings County, New York. 27 January 2017.
    • Possibly continuing from mid-December.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (adult). Shasta County, California. 27 January 2017.
    • First county record.

Miscellaneous Notes

  • A putative adult California x Ring-billed Gull was found and photographed by Mark Sawyer in Placer County, California. 06 January 2017. Beside showing a paling iris, the markings on the crown and nape were fine and thin, similar to Ring-billed. The primary pattern showed less black than expected on a typical California Gull and the gray upperparts appeared a shade paler than surrounding California Gulls.
  • An adult Iceland Gull was found dead in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin on 05 January 2017. The finder, Tood Leech, discovered the gull with all of its outer primaries plucked on both wings. This is unfortunate considering the outer primaries were thought to be all white on this individual. There were no signs of injury and the cause of death is still unknown. This is the 3rd Iceland Gull to be found dead by birders on the Great Lakes this winter. 
  • Two video recordings with audio of presumed Kumlien's Gulls were taken this month by Donna Martin. One of a 2nd cycle bird giving short calls with head tossing, and another of an adult giving a long call. There's an obvious raspy and screechy quality to both vocalizations. 14 January and 23 January 2017, respectively. Summerside, Prince Edward Island.

January 2017 Quiz

Age: This individual shows several plumage characters that are obvious, sub-adult, traits. The tailband, brown marginal coverts and "dirty" black primary coverts, combined with a heavily marked bill, all suggest a bird that isn't an adult (despite the largely white body). The plumage looks typical of a 3rd cycle type. Note that the broad white edges on the flight feathers (specifically the tips to the secondaries and inner primaries) are not expected on a 2nd cycle.

Identification: Few gulls in North America show a menacing pale eye such as this with pale gray upperparts, and pink legs. The bill is not dramatically large or bulbous-tipped. This species is one that anyone who has a veritable interest in gulls should know - the archetypical seagull, if you will. The January quiz bird is an American Herring Gull. Although many 3rd cycle Herrings show a p10 mirror by now, this one does not.

Here's an open wing of this individual:


01 January 2017

Monthly Notables December 2016

  • Iceland Gull (1st cycle). Fairbanks NS County, Alaska. 01 December 2016.
    • Possible nominate, glaucoides.
  • Franklin's Gull (1st cycle). Barnstable County, Massachusetts. 04 December 2016.
    • A first cycle bird with dark brown upperwings and nearly absent PA molt.
  • Glaucous Gull (1st cycle). Washington County, Vermont. 07 December 2016.
    • First record for central Vermont.
  • Ivory Gull (adult). St. John's County, Newfoundland. 09 December 2016.
    • Seen with a "clean" puncture wound on the right side of its neck.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (juvenile). Brown County, Wisconsin, 10 December 2016.
    • Second consecutive year this species has appeared at this site.
  • California Gull (adult). Cuyahoga County, Ohio. 10 December 2016.
  • Common Gull (adult). Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia. 10 December 2016.
    • Wingtip pattern close to Kamchatka but paler upperparts suggestive of a canus outlier. 
  • Mew Gull (adult). Kings County, New York. 12 December 2016.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Pierce County, Washington. 17 December 2016.
    • Continuing.
  • Black-headed Gull (1st cycle). Volusia County, Florida. 18 December 2016.
  • Thayer's Gull (1st cycle). Oswego County, New York. 21 December 2016.
  • Kumlien's Gull (1st cycle). Salt Lake County, Utah. 18 December 2016.
    • Continuing from November.
  • California Gull (1st cycle). Yalobusha County, Mississippi. 21 December 2016.
  • Sabine's Gull (1st cycle). Brevard County, Florida. 22 December 2016.
    • A tattered and sickly looking bird with worn upperparts. Interestingly, the bird showed a bluish tibia similar to many Herrings on the Atlantic coast.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Polk County, Iowa. 23 December 2016.
    • First county record.
  • KELP GULL (adult). St. John's County, Newfoundland. 23 December 2016.
    • Undoubtedly the rarest and most unexpected gull sighting of the month, if not the entire year! First province record. Now the northern most occurrence for this species, worldwide. Relocated briefly on Christmas Day but not seen since.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (juvenile). Mohave County, Arizona. 24 December 2016.
  • Ivory Gull (1st cycle). Delaware County, Ohio. 29 December 2016.
    • 2nd State Record. A one-day wonder seen and photographed by a single observer.

Miscellaneous Notes:

  1. Just south of the ABA area, a 1st cycle Audouin's Gull was found and photographed on 10 December 2016 in Trinidad. Not only is this a 1st record for the island, it's a 1st record for all of the New World. Certainly not a species that was on anyone's radar.
  2. A first cycle kumlieni type was observed for a couple of days in Chatham-Kent County, Ontario before being found dead on 01 December 2016. Jermey Hatt salvaged the specimen and delivered it to the Royal Ontario Museum.  
  3. A putative Laughing x Ring-billed Gull was photographed and observed by many in Michigan City, Indiana (LaPorte County) on 03 December 2016. Although notably smaller than purported hybrid individuals of this combination, the wingtip and basic plumage head pattern do match up to LAGU x RBGU. Photos here.
  4. Cathy Sheeter documented via video a pair of 1st cycle Herring Gulls begging an adult for over 30 minutes. The adult gull subsequently regurgitated food for them. 10 December 2016. New Jersey. 
  5. An apparent European Herring x Glaucous Gull (so-called Viking Gull) was observed in St. John's, Newfoundland on 18 December 2016 (Alvan Buckley, Bruce Mactavish). Plumage was entirely juvenile.
  6. At least 3 reasonable candidates for nominate glaucoides Iceland Gull occurred this month.
    • First cycle from Fairbanks NS County, Alaska. 01 December 2016. 
    • Adult from Simcoe County, Ontario. 03 December 2016.
    • Adult from Milwaukee County, Wisconsin. 17 December 2016.

December 2016 Quiz

Age: Widely spaced bars on the lower scapulars and lesser/median coverts, along with marbled greater coverts, and rounded primary tips suggest a 2nd cycle large gull.

Identification: This dopey-eyed bird with a dark post-ocular line, bicolored bill and noticeable downward gape, should look familiar to birders from the western half of the continent.The long wings and attenuated rear, with medium gray scapulars coming in readily push the ID in favor of one species: California Gull. This month's quiz bird - a 2nd cycle CAGU - was photographed in San Mateo County, California in mid-September.