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


  • 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.