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


  • 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.

  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.