01 September 2021

August 2021 Quiz

 

December. Illinois.

Age: Our quiz bird in the center of the frame appears to be an adult black-backed species, but the extensive black on the bill is excessive for an adult. An open wing may reveal subadult features on the plumage. The smaller white apicals are also atypical of adults. Such birds are best referred to as "adult type", which implies some ambiguity in age. 

Identification: Adult black-backed species can be sorted into two groups: those with yellow legs and those with pink legs. This individual appears to have intermediate leg color -- not the obvious pink seen on the two Herrings in the foreground, but also not the mustard-yellow seen on the Ring-billeds in the background. The legs do, however, have a dull yellow cast to them, which is not uncommon in adult type Lesser Black-backed Gulls. The bill pattern too is found on a good number of adult type Lessers. The size and structure seem to fit that species, and the clear iris and finer head streaking also support Lesser. It's upright posture and lowered wings give the body a rotund shape, almost recalling Slaty-backed Gull, and from a distance, such a wide tertial crescent may excite observers. But the attenuated look to the wings, leg color and extensive black on the bill all combine to make our August Quiz a relatively straightforward Lesser Black-backed Gull.

Monthly Notables August 2021

Sightings:

  • Black-headed Gull (adult). Monmouth County, New Jersey. 05 August 2021.
  • Franklin's Gull (adult). Valdez-Cordova County, Alaska. 06 August 2021.
  • Short-billed Gull (adult). Churchill & Manitoba County, Manitoba. 04 August 2021.
  • Laughing Gull (adult). Monterey County, California. 07 August 2021.
  • Glaucous Gull (2nd cycle). New Haven County, Connecticut. 07 August 2021.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (adult). Sitka, Alaska. 11 August 2021.
    • Presumed graellsii. p1-p5 renewed, p6 half grown, p7 missing, p8-p10 old; mirror on p9 & p10.
  • Short-billed Gull (adult). Calgary County, Alberta. 11 August 2021.
  • Heermann's Gull (3rd cycle). Duval County, Florida. 13 August 2021.
    • The same waif that has been on the Atlantic coast since August 2019. Now in 3rd basic plumage.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (2nd cycle). Meeker County, Minnesota. 14 August 2021.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (3rd cycle). Harrison County, Georgia. 14 August 2021.
  • Little Gull (2nd cycle). Washington County, Rhode Island. 14 August 2021.
  • Sabine's Gull (adult). Cook County, Illinois. 17 August 2021.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (3rd cycle). Banff County, Alberta. 17 August 2021.
  • Thayer's Gull (2nd cycle). Kenai Peninsula County, Alaska. 18 August 2021.
  • Little Gull (juvenile). Cochrane County, Ontario. 19 August 2021.
  • Laughing Gull (2 juveniles). Tompkins & Broome County, New York. 19 August 2021.
  • Black-headed Gull (adult). Fairfax County, Virginia. 17 August 2021.
    • 3rd county record.
  • Laughing Gull (juvenile). Milwaukee County, Wisconsin. 22 August 2021.
  • Sabine's Gull (2nd cycle type). Fremont County, Wyoming. 22 August 2021.
  • Common Gull (2nd cycle). Cape Breton County, Nova Scotia. 23 August 2021.
    • Nominate canus.
  • Sabine's Gull (2nd cycle type). Fairfax County, Virginia. 25 August 2021.
  • Little Gull (2nd cycle). Power County, Idaho. 26 August 2021.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (2nd cycle). Power County, Idaho. 26 August 2021.
  • Laughing Gull (2nd cycle). La Haute-Cote-Nord County, Quebec. 26 August 2021.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Anchorage County, Alaska. 26 August 2021.
  • Sabine's Gull (adult). Dare County, North Carolina. 28 August 2021.
  • Glaucous Gull (2nd cycle). Ketchikan Gateway County, Alaska. 29 August 2021.
  • Sabine's Gull (adult type). Escambia County, Florida. 30 August 2021.


01 August 2021

Monthly Notables July 2021

Sightings:

  • Iceland Gull (2nd cycle). Monroe County, New York. 01 July 2021.
  • Laughing Gull (2nd cycle). Monroe County, Michigan. 02 July 2021.
  • Glaucous Gull (2nd cycle). Monmouth County, New Jersey. 03 July 2021.
  • Black-tailed Gull (adult type). Lake & Peninsula County, Alaska. 03 July 2021.
  • Laughing Gull (adult). Marin County, California. 05 July 2021.
  • Franklin's Gull (2nd cycle). Sonoma County, California. 05 July 2021.
  • Franklin's Gull (2nd cycle). Milwaukee County, Wisconsin. 06 July 2021.
  • Little Gull (2nd cycle type - 2). Marinette County, Wisconsin. 06 July 2021.
  • Laughing Gull (adult). Muskingum County, Ohio. 08 July 2021.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Kenai Peninsula County, Alaska. 10 July 2021.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (2nd cycle). Keith County, Nebraska. 10 July 2021.
  • Franklin's Gull (adult). Norfolk County, Ontario. 11 July 2021.
  • Heermann's Gull (juvenile). Ketchikan Gateway County, Alaska. 16 July 2021.
    • 5th for Ketchikan. 
  • Sabine's Gull (adult). Lyon County, Nevada. 19 July 2021.
  • Little Gull (adult). Chittenden County, Vermont. 22 July 2021.
  • Black-headed Gull (2nd cycle). Ocean County, New Jersey. 26 July 2021.
  • Common Gull (adult). Cape Race, Newfoundland. 26 July 2021.
  • Short-billed Gull (juvenile). Clatsop County, Oregon. 26 July 2021.
    • Likely a new early "fall" arrival record for this age group.

Notes:

  1. Ring-billed Gulls nested in Jackson County, Colorado this season. Nicholas Komar reported more than 40 half grown chicks on 03 July, 2021 at Walden Reservoir, marking the first confirmed breeding in the state since 1900.
  2. 27 Lesser Black-backed Gulls reported by Peter Paul in Queens County, New York should be a high count for the county (07 July 2021). Summering Lessers are more common farther east on Long Island, such as in Nassau County. 
  3. 13 Little Gulls were reported in a "colony" in Churchill, Manitoba by Ashley Westphal on 22 July 2021.

July 2021 Quiz

 

January. Washington.

Age: The pointed primary tips, neatly patterned wing coverts and tertials, and overall appearance suggest a 1st cycle gull. The warm mottling on the breast and underparts are also typical of a 1st cycle.

Identification: This appears to be a member of the white-headed gulls (as opposed to the smaller tern-like or hooded species). The bill is strikingly petite and "short". At first glance it would seem this is an Iceland Gull due to the pale primary edges, icy-gray post-juvenile scapulars and overall frosty appearance to the upperparts. But we'd be pressed to find a 1st cycle Iceland with this much solid gray on the back in January. This is a 1st cycle Short-billed Gull (L brachyrhynchus), formerly known as Mew Gull in North America. Individuals with this plumage aspect are sometimes described as "mini Thayer's", and overall the plumage patterns are similar. In the field -- which can't be appreciated here -- the diminutive size of this species would be quite obvious. 

01 July 2021

Monthly Notables June 2021

 Sightings:

  • Iceland Gull (2nd cycle type). Niagara County, New York. 01 June 2021.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (5 - 2nd cycle types). Keith County, Nebraska. 01 June 2021.
  • Ross's Gull (1st cycle). Nome County, Alaska. 03 June 2021.
    • Nome River mouth. A one-year old in 1st alternate plumage.
  • Glaucous-winged Gull (adult type). Harney County, Oregon. 03 June 2021.
  • Black-headed Gull (1st cycle). Aleutians West County, Alaska. 03 June 2021.
  • Black-headed Gull (1st cycle). Monmouth County, New Jersey. 04 June 2021.
  • Heermann's Gull (3rd cycle). Cape May County, New Jersey. 04 June 2021.
    • 1st State Record continuing until at least this date.
  • Ross's Gull (1st cycle). Nome County, Alaska. 06 June 2021.
    • Gambell Seawatch. A different one-year old than the Nome bird.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (2nd cycle). Inyo County, California. 07 June 2021.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (2nd cycle). Imperial County, California. 08 June 2021.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult type). Anchorage County, Alaska. 09 June 2021.
  • Franklin's Gull (adult). Cape May County, New Jersey. 09 June 2021.
  • Laughing Gull (adult type). Bruce County, Ontario. 09 June 2021.
  • Franklin's Gull (adult). Comox-Stathcona District, British Columbia. 10 June 2021.
  • Glaucous Gull (2nd cycle). Nassau County, New York. 15 June 2021.
  • Laughing Gull (2nd cycle). San Juan County, Utah. 16 June 2021.
  • Heermann's Gull (3rd cycle). Chatham County, Georgia. 18 June 2021.
    • Back after a three month hiatus.
  • California Gull (2nd cycle). Sangamon County, Illinois. 19 June 2021.
  • California Gull (4th cycle type). Erie County, Pennsylvania. 20 June 2021.
  • Laughing Gull (1st cycle/1st alternate). Becker County, Minnesota. 20 June 2021.
  • Heermann's Gull (3rd cycle). Beaufort County, South Carolina: 21 June 2021.
    • 1st STATE RECORD. The same waif that has made the Atlantic coast its home since August 2019.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (5 - 2nd/3rd cycle types). Portage la Prairie Area County, Manitoba. 23 June 2021.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult type). North Slope County, Alaska. 24 June 2021.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (2nd cycle). Los Angeles County, California. 26 June 2021.
  • Sabine's Gull (2nd cycle type). Nueces County, Texas. 29 June 2021.

Notes:

1. The 62nd Supplement to the AOS Checklist now treats what was formerly Mew Gull in North America as a separate species from the Old World taxa. Short-billed Gull is the new name for Larus brachyrhynchus. With this split, the ABA Checklist will have a total of 31 gull species. 

2. "The" Heermann's Gull of Florida-fame, subsequently found in Georgia, then Virginia, then Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Jersey, made its way back south to Georgia and then South Carolina this month. By my count, this bird has provided a total of 5 new "state firsts" in 2021, and counting. 

3. Coverage by several parties in the Aleutians yielded several Red-legged Kittiwake sightings this month. Up to 20 individuals were found between Aleutians East and Aleutians West County, Alaska throughout June, all presumably adult types. These are among the highest counts for the species this far south and east in some years. 

June 2021 Quiz

 

Florida. January.

Age: Whichever species this is, we can be sure it's a subadult based on the black centers to the secondaries and dark smudging on the underside of the primary coverts.

Identification: This is a hooded gull with thick white eye crescents and a relatively stout bill. The broad white trailing edge and dark wingtip readily eliminate smaller species such as Bonaparte's and Black-headed (so-called "masked gulls" which have mostly gray along the trailing edge of the secondaries).
 
The only expected hooded gulls in North America are Franklin's and Laughing. One may assume this is a Laughing Gull based on the time of year and location, but taking a closer look, we can make the case for Franklin's for the following reasons: The eye crescents are rather wide and the hood is sharply demarcated with a clean, white neck. And more importantly, the active molt in the primaries is expected in Franklin's at this time of year (note the 3 new innermost primaries). Franklin's undergoes two complete molts per annual cycle. During the northern winter, this species is typically found in South America where it undergoes a complete prealternate molt, replacing body and flight feathers at once. This individual appears to be doing just that, presumably via its 1st prealternate molt.

A few Franklin's Gulls can be found lingering in North America in the boreal winter, primarily in the far south. Those that winter north of the equator appear to average less extensive prealternate molts than their southern counterparts. Here is this individual with several Laughing Gulls. 

Franklin's Gull (center) typically shows a semi-hood if not sporting a complete hood. It averages a smaller body and bill than Laughing Gull. Note how the eye crescents "pop" on the darker head.


30 June 2021

Short-billed Gull - Larus brachyrhynchus

Big news! The Mew Gulls have been split into two species, Larus canus and Larus brachyrhynchus. The proposal, put forth by Pamela C. Rasmussen back in November of 2020, can be found here. Data that bolstered the split comes from a combination of genetic, morphological and vocal differences, in addition to well-established geographic isolation of brachyrhynchus

In the 62nd Supplement to the AOS Check-list of North American Birds, Short-billed Gull is the name "resurrected" for the American taxon, Larus brachyrhynchus (formerly known as Mew Gull to North American observers).

The canus group now includes Old World taxa, Common Gull (nominate L.c. canus) and Kamchatka Gull (L.c. kamtschatschensis). Nominate is rare to Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and Quebec, and casual south of here to NY. Beside being very rare in Alaska, Kamchatka is casual, but increasing, in the Northeast from Atlantic Canada, down to New England. The supplement makes no mention of the less known race, heinei, or Russian Common Gull (L.c heinei), as it is known in Europe and Asia. There are no known reports of heinei in North America, possibly due to an observer bias. Field identification of all four forms -- with helpful notes on vocalizations -- can be found in Adriaens & Gibbins (2016).

The addition of Short-billed Gull puts the number of gull species on the ABA Checklist at 31. 


1st cycle Short-billed Gull (Larus brachyrhynchus) with adult California Gull.
Washington. January. photo: Amar Ayyash.



1st cycle Common Gull (Larus c. canus) with 1st cycle Ring-billed Gull.
New York. December. photo: Andrew Baksh.



1st cycle Kamchatka Gull (Larus c. kamtschatschensis) with adult Vega Gull.
Japan. December. photo: Amar Ayyash

01 June 2021

Monthly Notables May 2021

Sightings:

  • Little Gull (1st cycle). Keweenaw County, Michigan. 01 May 2021.
  • California Gull (adult). Johnson County, Iowa. 02 May 2021.
  • Thayer's Gull (1st cycle). Lewis and Clark County, Montana. 03 May 2021.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (2nd cycle). San Francisco County, California. 05 May 2021.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (3rd cycle). Grays Harbor County, Washington. 06 May 2021.
  • Kumlien's Gull (1st cycle). Cook County, Illinois. 08 May 2021.
  • Franklin's Gull (adult). Norfolk County, Ontario. 08 May 2021.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (adult type). Central Kootenay District, B.C. 08 May 2021.
  • Little Gull (1st cycle). Warren County, Ohio. 10 May 2021.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (2nd cycle). Alameda County, California. 11 May 2021.
  • Franklin's Gull (3; 10 adults). Lincoln County, Oregon. 11 May 2021.
    • Likely a high count for coastal Oregon.
  • Glaucous Gull (1st cycle). Marin County, California. 11 May 2021.
  • Kumlien's Gull (1st cycle). Bucks County, Pennsylvania. 11 May 2021.
  • Heermann's Gull (3rd cycle). Virginia Beach County, Virginia. 11 May 2021.*
    • 2nd State Record. P1 dropped and thus the 3rd prebasic molt has commenced.
  • Laughing Gull (adult). Valdez-Cordova County, Alaska. 12 May 2021.
    • Apparent 7th State Record.
  • Little Gull (1st cycle). Santa Cruz County, California. 13 May 2021.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (1st cycle). Durham County, Ontario. 13 May 2021.
  • Franklin's Gull (1st cycle). Dare County, North Carolina. 15 May 2021.
  • Ivory Gull (adult). Nome County, Alaska. 20 May 2021.
  • Little Gull (adult). Kings County, California. 22 May 2021.
  • Black-headed Gull (adult). Nome County, Alaska. 24 May 2021.
  • Franklin's Gull (adult). Anchorage County, Alaska. 25 May 2021.
  • Heermann's Gull (3rd cycle). Bristol County, Massachusetts. 27 May 2021. 
    • 1ST STATE RECORD. 3rd generation p1 growing in, p2-p3 dropped.
  • Heermann's Gull (3rd cycle). Newport County, Rhode Island. 27 May 2021.
    • 1ST STATE RECORD. Same individual from VA & MA.
  • Thayer's Gull (1st cycle). San Diego County, California. 28 May 2021.
  • Franklin's Gull (adult). Skagway-Hoonah-Angoon County, Alaska. 29 May 2021.
    • 1st for Gustavus, Alaska.
  • Ivory Gull (2nd cycle). Nome County, Alaska. 29 May 2021.
  • Herrmann's Gull (3rd cycle). Cape May County, New Jersey. 30 May 2021.
    • 1ST STATE RECORD. Same individual from VA, MA, RI. 
    • 3rd generation p1 growing in, p2-p3 dropped.
  • Black-headed Gull (2nd cycle). Cape May County, New Jersey. 30 May 2021.
    • Continuing.

Notes:

* The Heermann's Gull that excited several Northeast Atlantic states this month yielded three 1st state records (MA, RI, NJ) and a 2nd state record (VA) all within 20 days. It is believed this is the same Heermann's first found in Palm Beach County, Florida as a juvenile in August 2019. Age, molt and plumage patterns work out perfectly, as well as its sporadic wanderings. This bird also produced a 1st state record in Georgia back in February-March of 2021. It was last seen in Volusia County, Florida on 23 March 2021 before being spotted in Virginia Beach this month. It's obvious this bird has a faulty compass and is likely to turn up anywhere!


May 2021 Quiz

 

Wisconsin. July. 

Age: Gull identification and aging go hand in hand, with the former often dependent on the latter. As we work on identifying a gull, we should be keen to place it in an age group based on plumage patterns. Age and plumage are discussed below.

Identification: The gray-backed birds on the left and right have slender pinkish-yellow bills with defined black rings. The spotted neck markings and finer streaking on the crown, as well darkish eyes safely relegate them to Ring-billed Gull (2nd cycles). Note the 1st generation outer primaries that are holding on (brown), which is expected at this time of year, with new incoming 2nd generation primaries growing in (black with white apical spots). These one-year old Ring-billeds are starting to show yellowish legs, but it is difficult to appreciate this field mark due to both lighting and a slight delay in bare part color maturation.  

The individual in the center is a black-backed species. It's relatively compact, but the solid dark brown upperparts, slender vent region behind the legs and parallel-edged dark bill all look great for Lesser Black-backed Gull. By direct comparison to the Ring-billeds, it is a notably small Lesser, likely a fm type. This too is a 2nd cycle, retaining old 1st generation primaries while molting the inner primaries.

It should be noted that these birds are undergoing their 2nd complete molt (known as the 2nd prebasic molt). Therefore, they are now 2nd cycle gulls.


01 May 2021

Monthly Notables April 2021

 Sightings:

  • Great Black-backed Gull (1st cycle). Saskatoon County, Saskatchewan. 01 April 2021.
  • Kamchatka Gull (adult). Fairfield County, Connecticut. 01 April 2021.
  • California Gull (adult). Dare County, North Carolina. 06 April 2021.
  • Glaucous-winged Gull (2nd cycle). Davis County, Utah. 06 April 2021.
  • Black-headed Gull (adult). Ventura County, California. 07 April 2021.
  • Vega Gull (adult). Santa Clara County, California. 08 April 2021.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (adult). Calgary County, Alberta. 10 April 2021.
    • Less than 20 accepted records for the province*.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (1st cycle). Seneca County, New York. 13 April 2021.
  • Great Black-backed Gull (3rd cycle). Williams County, North Dakota. 13 April 2021.
  • Little Gull (adult). Utah County, Utah. 14 April 2021.
  • Franklin's Gull (adult). Tompkins County, New York. 19 April 2021.
  • Black-headed Gull (adult). Pierce County, Washington. 21 April 2021.
  • California Gull (adult type). Brant County, Ontario. 22 April 2021.
  • Thayer's Gull (1st cycle). Ventura County, California. 24 April 2021.
  • Western Gull (adult). Clark County, Nevada. 27 April 2021.
  • Laughing Gull (1st cycle). Jefferson County, Kansas. 28 April 2021.

Notes:
  1. The adult Black-legged Kittiwake in Calgary is noteworthy for several reasons: 1) There are less than 20 accepted records for the province, 2) It is the longest staying kittiwake for Alberta (with most birds gone within a couple of hours, 3) It has been lingering at a pond at a landfill and has been seen picking through and eating waste (James Fox pers comm.). I don't know of any previous reports of kittiwakes feeding, or attempting to feed, at landfills. 
  2. Nick Ramsey reported a putative Kelp x Herring hybrid from the Chandeleur Islands in St. Bernard Perish, Louisiana on 20 April 2021. Adult type. Upperparts intermediate, with a prominent bulbous-tipped bill, square p10 mirror and slight dusky wash on the primary coverts. In addition to this individual, another 3 suspected 1st/2nd cycle type hybrids may have been present, tending toward Herring. 

01 April 2021

April 2021 Quiz

 

Washington. January.

Age: All of these individuals appear to be adults. Given the amount of head streaking and the time of year, it is safe to assume they're in basic plumage (as opposed to "alternate" plumage).

IdentificationWe will ignore the farthest individual facing head on for the time being. This trio of yellow-legged species shows classic fieldmarks, and for the most part, identification is straightforward. Beginning with the palest individual -- the pale-eyed bird facing right -- we see a typical black ring around the bill tip and pale eye: Ring-billed Gull. Just in front of it is a dark-eyed bird with darker upperparts, slender bill tip with very light marks, and heavy smudging to the hindneck. The large p10 mirror (seen on the opposite wing just beyond the tail tip), and large boldly contrasting white tertial crescent make it a fairly standard Mew Gull. This species tends to show a proportionally larger eye on a smaller face. Farthest to the right, with straw-yellow legs is a larger birds with a dark eye, straight bill with signature black-to-red bill pattern near the tip. Everything about it suggests California Gull, with upperparts approximately the same as the Mew Gull. These 3 are our pale to medium gray yellow-legged white-headed gulls and should be learned well. Ring-billed and Mew are 3 cycle gulls, whereas California requires 4 cycles to acquire an adult-like plumage. 

Now, if you guessed Ring-billed for the farthest individual, then you guessed correctly. The upperparts do appear a smidgen paler than the California Gull and if the two were standing at the same angle this would be more noticeable. The wider breast and slightly longer leg appearance also "feels" better for Ring-billed over Mew. 

Monthly Notables March 2021

Sightings:

  • Heermann's Gull (2nd cycle). Chatham County, Georgia. 01 March 2021.
    Black-legged Kittiwake (1st cycle). Chautauqua County, New York. 01 March 2021.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (3rd cycle). Halifax County, Nova Scotia. 01 March 2021.
    • 3rd Province Record. 
  • Mew Gull (2nd cycle type). Washoe County, Nevada. 02 March 2021.
  • California Gull (subadult). Virginia Beach County, Virginia. 03 March 2021.
  • Mew Gull (1st cycle). Kings County, New York. 04 March 2021.
    • Continuing from previous month.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (3rd cycle). Kenai Peninsula Borough, Alaska.06 March 2021.
  • Bonaparte's Gull (1st cycle). Kenai Peninsula Borough, Alaska. 06 March 2021.
  • Laughing Gull (2nd cycle). Marin County, California. 02 March 2021.
  • Ross's Gull (adult). Bethel County, Alaska. 09 March 2021.
  • Heermann's Gull (2nd cycle). Volusia County, Florida. 09 March 2021.
  • Glaucous Gull (1st cycle). Union County, New Jersey. 10 March 2021.
  • Ivory Gull (40 individuals). Northern Peninsula-St. Anthony County, NL. 11 March 2021.
  • Great Black-backed Gull (1st cycle). Canadian County, Oklahoma. 12 March 2021.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Kodiak Island County, Alaska. 13 March 2021.
  • Laughing Gull (adult). Barton County, Nebraska. 14 March 2021.
  • California Gull (1st cycle). East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana. 14 March 2021.
  • California Gull (adult). Dare County, North Carolina. 18 March 2021.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (3rd cycle). Comox-Strathcona District, British Columbia. 18 March 2021.
  • Little Gull (1st cycle & adult). Gibson County, Indiana. 20 March 2021.
  • Great Black-backed Gull (adult). Larimer County, Colorado. 22 March 2021.
  • Vega Gull (adult). Santa Clara County, California. 22 March 2021.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (1st cycle). Comax, British Columbia. 22 March 2021.
  • Great Black-backed Gull (1st cycle). Saskatoon County, Saskatchewan. 25 March 2021.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Ashland County, Wisconsin. 26 March 2021.
  • California Gull (adult). New Haven County, Connecticut. 27 March 2021.

Notes:
  1. Earlier this month, Chuck Slusarczyk Jr reported a banded Ring-billed Gull from Cleveland that he submitted to the Bird Banding Lab in January of 2021. The USGS BBL confirmed with him that this individual was banded as a flightless chick in Toronto on 18 June 1992, putting it at 28 years 9 months old. According to the BBL, this sets a new longevity record for the species (the previous being 27 years, 6 months). Band number: 0785-64995.


31 March 2021

March 2021 Quiz

 

Washington. January.

Age: Adult.

Identification: The upperparts appear to be a medium gray, noticeably paler than Western Gull, but darker than Herring Gull. The upperside of the wingtip is short of being a true black, suggesting a hybrid between a species with a black wingtip and a paler wingtip. Glaucous-winged influence immediately comes to mind. The gray underside to the wingtip also suggests a four year hybrid. This is a large, thick-billed bird with dark eye and very smudgy head markings. Given the slightly darker gray upperparts, we can be confident this isn't a Herring x Glaucous-winged. Western x Glaucous-winged makes more sense and that's what it was identified as in the field. 

Another image below. The pinkish orbital ring and dark eye is typical of Glaucous-winged. The stocky, bulbous-tipped bill, smudgy head markings and medium gray upperparts are typical of this hybrid combination. Note the less than black primaries here.


01 March 2021

Monthly Notables February 2021

 Sightings:

  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Toronto County, Ontario. 01 February 2021.
  • Western Gull (adult). Davis County, Utah. 02 February 2021.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (1st cycle). Lake County, Illinois. 03 February 2021.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (1st cycle). Rankin County, Mississippi. 03 February 2021.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Benton County, Washington. 03 February 2021.
  • Franklin's Gull (1st cycle). Del Norte County, California. 05 February 2021.
  • Mew Gull (adult). Suffolk County, New York. 06 February 2021.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Kodiak Island County, Alaska. 07 February 2021.
  • Kumlien's Gull (1st cycle). Monroe County, Indiana. 08 February 2021.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Alameda County, California. 11 February 2021.
  • California Gull (adult). Benton County, Tennessee. 12 February 2021.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). St. John's County, Newfoundland. 12 February 2021.
    • Believed to be a returning bird.
  • Heermann's Gull (2nd cycle). Chatham County, Georgia. 15 February 2021.
    • 1ST STATE RECORD. Believed to be "the" roaming FL bird.
  • California Gull (adult type). Middlesex County, New Jersey. 15 February 2021.
  • Vega Gull (adult). San Mateo County, California. 15 February 2021.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Labrador-Happy Valley-Goose Bay County, NL.
    • 3rd record for Labrador.
  • California Gull (adult). Sarasota County, Florida. 20 February 2021.
    • Believed to be a returning bird.
  • Vega Gull (adult). Santa Clara County, California. 21 February 2021.
  • Laughing Gull (adult). McHenry County, Illinois. 24 February 2021.
  • Black-headed Gull (1st cycle). Brevard County, Florida. 23 February 2021.
  • Kamchatka Gull (adult). Nantucket County, Massachusetts. 25 February 2021.
  • Laughing Gull (adult). Cook County, Illinois. 26 February 2021.

February 2021 Quiz

November. Peru.
 

Age: Plumage and bare parts all seem typical of an adult four-year gull. The bright bill and all-white head suggest a bird in alternate plumage in breeding condition. 

Identification: A black-backed species with yellow legs limits our choices to 3 species: Yellow-footed, Lesser Black-backed and Kelp Gull. There is very little contrast between the black wingtip and the black upperparts which hints at the darkest of black-backeds, Kelp Gull. The greenish-yellow legs (in contrast to the orange-yellow bill) also support Kelp over the other two species. The combination of broad wing with thick white trailing edge, decidedly small p10 mirror, clouded iris with apparent red orbital and strong bill all point to an adult Kelp Gull. Given the location, this makes perfect sense. 

31 January 2021

Monthly Notables January 2021

 Sightings:

  • Heermann's Gull (1st cycle). Kitsap County, Washington. 01 January 2021.
  • Laughing Gull (1st cycle). Seneca County, New York. 01 January 2021.
  • Great Black-backed Gull (1st cycle). Charles Mix County, South Dakota. 01 January 2021.
  • California Gull (adult). Chambers County, Texas. 02 January 2021.
  • Mew Gull (1st cycle). Taylor County, Texas. 03 January 2021.
  • Laughing Gull (1st cycle). Pope/Yell County, Arkansas. 03 January 2021.
  • California Gull (adult). New Haven County, Connecticut. 03 January 2021.
    • 3rd State Record.
  • California Gull (adult). Sangamon County, Illinois. 03 January 2021.
  • Taimyr Gull (adult). Pictou County, Nova Scotia. 04 January 2021.
    • Presumed taimyrensis*. Unprecedented. Would be the 1st for the Atlantic.
  • Black-headed Gull (2 adults). Cuyahoga County, Ohio. 04 January 2021.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (1st cycle). Monroe County, New York. 05 January 2021.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Niagara County, Ontario. 07 January 2021.
  • Franklin's Gull (adult). Hughes County, South Dakota. 07 January 2021.
  • Ivory Gull (6 adults). Nome County, Alaska. 07 January 2021.
  • Little Gull (adult). Lake County, Tennessee. 08 January 2021. 
  • Great Black-backed Gull (1st cycle). Boulder County, Colorado. 09 January 2021.
  • Franklin's Gull (1st cycle). Del Norte County, California. 12 January 2021.
  • California Gull (1st cycle). East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana. 12 January 2021.
  • Laughing Gull (1st cycle). Cuyahoga County, Ohio. 14 January 2021.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (1st cycle). San Mateo County, California. 15 January 2021.
  • Laughing Gull (1st cycle). Ozaukee County, Wisconsin. 16 January 2021.
  • Ross's Gull (2nd cycle type). New Haven County, Connecticut. 16 January 2021.
  • California Gull (2nd cycle). Lee County, Iowa. 18 January 2021.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Simcoe County, Ontario. 18 January 2021.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Niagara County, New York. 19 January 2021.
  • Black-headed Gull (adult). Erie County, Pennsylvania. 22 January 2021.
  • Western Gull (adult). Davis County, Utah. 23 January 2021.
  • Little Gull (2nd cycle). Panola County, Mississippi. 23 January 2021.
  • Great Black-backed Gull (1st cycle). Clay County, Missouri. 24 January 2021.
  • Great Black-backed Gull (1st cycle). Douglas County, Kansas. 24 January 2021.
  • Heermann's Gull (2nd cycle). Volusia County, Florida. 24 January 2021.
    • Presumably same individual since August 2019.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (1st cycle). Tazwell County, Illinois. 24 January 2021.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Marin County, California. 24 January 2021.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Benton County, Washington. 26 January 2021.
  • California Gull (adult). Lorain County, Ohio. 27 January 2021.
  • Common Gull (1st cycle). Kings County, New York. 28 January 2021.
  • Ross's Gull (1st cycle). Lincoln County, Oregon. 30 January 2021.
    • 3rd State Record.
  • Mew Gull (2 adults). Hughes County, South Dakota. 31 January 2021.
Notes: 
1. Angela MacDonald found an adult type taimyrensis in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia on 04 January 2021. A darkish eye, fine streaking restricted to the lower hindneck and a sherbert-orange/yellow leg color support this taxon. Late primary molt is also in favor of this Asian form. P1-P7 new and fully grown, P8 80% grown, P9-P10 retained. P10 with medium to large mirror, P9 with small rounded mirror not reaching the outer web. Black on P7/P8 reaching p-coverts along the outer webs. Full, asymmetric subterminal band on P4, and black mark on outer web of P3 (on right wing). No white tongue tips on P6-P7, with very little slivers of white on inner webs of  P4-P5. The taxonomy on Taimyr Gull is unsettled. Some authorities treat it as a hybrid population between Heuglin's and Vega Gull, others place it with the Lesser Black-backed Gulls. A recently adopted position on this form is that it is a good taxon worthy of species rank.

January 2021 Quiz

 


Washington. January.


Age:
There is no reason to suspect this isn't an adult. On the underwing, we'd be looking for black markings on the tail, hints of dark centers on the secondaries and darker wing linings -- none which are seen here.

Identification: This appears to be a "white-winged" species, lacking black on the underside of the outer wingtip. The ghostly gray remiges, darkerst on the outer 5-6 primaries suggest Glaucous-winged Gull or a Kumlien's type Iceland Gull. The proportions -- long and broad wing, long tail, barrel-chested body, thick neck, and above all, the stout, bulbous-tipped bill -- all support Glaucous-winged Gull. This Glaucous-winged Gull was photographed in the Olympic peninsula region, and is the expected white-winged large gull here.