31 May 2019

May 2019 Quiz

Age: There are two generations of flight feathers seen here. The three outer primaries appear to be the juvenile (1st basic) feathers of a smaller hooded gull. This is also true for the secondaries with brown trailing edge. The 5-6 newer inner primaries are 2nd generation, and so we can be sure this bird is a 2nd cycle. Assuming this is a resident of the northern hemisphere, we might guess it's the boreal spring/summer.

Identification: This month's quiz isn't too bad if we narrow down our choices to a hooded gull with a moderate sized bill in proportion to the head, a dark trailing edge and narrow tailband. Black-headed and Bonaparte's are the top two contenders. Black-headed typically shows dark pigment on the underwing (all that's seen here is a shadow effect and no black). The all-black bill also points away from Black-headed and favors Bonaparte's. May's quiz bird is a relatively straight-forward one-year old Bonaparte's molting flight feathers.

Muskegon County, Michigan. May.

27 May 2019

Ten Is The Magic Number - Or Is It Eleven?

Every May since 2014, I've made it a point to run up to Wisconsin at the height of migration to attempt to see as many gull species possible. 8-9 species is relatively "easy" to get, with 10 being a good day. Yesterday, 26 May 2019, I tallied 9 species in Sheboygan and finished up with my 10th in Port Washington.

Sheboygan: Franklin's (1 sub-adult), Laughing (1 adult), Little (2 first cycle), Bonaparte's (~250; 95% first cycle), Ring-billed (~200; 80% first cycle), Herring (~300; 90% first cycle), Iceland (2 second cycles), Lesser Black-backed (4; two third cycle, two first cycle), California (second cycle).

Port Washington: 1st/2nd cycle type Glaucous Gull.

2nd Cycle California Gull (PB2 molt in motion with inner primaries molting). New scapulars, several tertials and inner upperwing coverts via 1st prealternate.

1st Cycle Little Gull (lower left) with similar-aged Bonaparte's Gull. Gray scaps likely formative. Black cap coming through most likely via 1st prealternate.

Same Individual Above. Note the darker, and thus stronger, outer webs to the primaries are entact.

1st Cycle Bonaparte's with nearly complete hood - an exception to the rule. Entire upperwing appears juvenile. Scapulars are formative, while the black head and white neck are 1st alternate.

Adult Herring Gull glamour shot. One of only a handful of definitive adults seen in Sheboygan.

2nd Cycle Thayer's Gull. The protected secondaries and tailband were sufficiently dark. The scapulars (at least the outer and lower feathers) and 2-3 new upperwing coverts are likely 2nd alternate.

1st Cycle Herring Gull with upperparts recalling Vega HERG, although the well-marked uppertail was typical Smith. Scapulars are 1st alternate, likely acquired last fall. Median coverts emerging (flat gray), perhaps best attributed to first prealternate molt resuming in spring. 

This is only my second time seeing California Gull in the spring/summer season in Wisconsin and it's reassuring to know an 11th species - Great Black-backed Gull - was possible in Manitowoc. Other species that I think are real possibilities for a "Big Gull Day" in this region are Black-legged Kittiwake and Slaty-backed Gull. The latter is a highly desired bird outside of the winter season!

01 May 2019

Monthly Notables April 2019

  • Sabine's Gull (adult). San Francisco County, California. 02 April 2019.
  • Glaucous Gull (1st cycle). Lafourche County, Alabama. 03 April 2019.
  • Thayer's Gull (1st cycle). Volusia County, Florida. 04 April 2019.
  • Great Black-backed Gull (adult). Logan County, Colorado. 06 April 2019.
  • Black-headed Gull (adult). Anne Arundel County, Maryland. 06 April 2019.
  • Glaucous Gull (1st cycle). Salt Lake County, Utah. 06 April 2019.
  • Mew Gull (adult). Barnstable County, Massachusetts. 07 April 2019.
  • Little Gull (1st cycle). Hall County, Georgia. 13 April 2019.
  • Mew Gull (2nd cycle). Nebraska. Lancaster County, Nebraska. 12 April 2019.
  • Glaucous-winged Gull (adult type). Kiowa County, Colorado. 13 April 2019. 
  • Common Gull (2nd cycle). St. John's County, Newfoundland. 17 April 2019.
  • California Gull (adult). New Haven County, Connecticut. 18 April 2019.
    • 2nd State Record.
  • Ivory Gull (adult). Manicouagan County, Quebec. 19 April 2019.
  • Little Gull (1st cycle). Lyon County, Kentucky. 20 April 2019.
  • Laughing Gull (adult). Dane County, Wisconsin. 20 April 2019.
  • Heermann's Gull (adult). Imperial County, California. 20 April 2019.
  • Thayer's Gull (2nd cycle). Galveston County, Texas. 22 April 2019.
  • California Gull (2 adults). Cook County, Illinois. 23 April 2019.
  • Ivory Gull (6 adults). Nome County, Alaska. 24 April 2019.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (2nd cycle). San Luis Obispo County, California 30 April 2019.