31 January 2022

January 2022 Quiz


January. California. 

Age: This is an apparent large four-year gull. The primary tips are decidedly pointed, suggesting 1st cycle. 

Identification: The plumage aspect immediately invites thoughts of a white-winged gull. The upperparts are uniformly pale throughout, with little contrast throughout the tertials and primaries. The large powerful bill and beady eye call to mind Glaucous-winged Gull. Glaucous Gull is ruled out by bill pattern, but also, due to the plainer upperparts which tend to be more patterned in Glaucous. Iceland Gull has a proportionally larger eye that's more centered on the face, along with a slimmer bill. 

Our January 2022 quiz bird is indeed a Glaucous-winged Gull.

1st cycle Glaucous-winged Gulls are sometimes found with this contrastingly pale white head and neck, against a plain grayish-brown body. It has been suggested that such a head pattern may be due to bleaching or the onset of the 1st prealternate molt. But such birds with white heads can be found in young juveniles in August, and so it appears this "look" is simply normal variation. 

01 January 2022

December 2021 Monthly Notables


  • Short-billed Gull (1st cycle). Maricopa County, Arizona. 01 December 2021.
    • Continuing from late November. 
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (1st cycle). La Paz County, Arizona. 01 December 2021.
  • Little Gull (adult). Linn County, Kansas. 03 December 2021.
  • Great Black-backed Gull (1st cycle). Cedar County, Nebraska. 04 December 2021.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (1st cycle). Fremont County, Wyoming. 04 December 2021.
  • Laughing Gull (2nd cycle). Sanilac County, Michigan. 05 December 2021. 
  • Thayer's Gull (1st cycle). Essex County, Massachusetts. 07 December 2021.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult type). Dane County, Wisconsin. 08 December 2021.
  • Vega Gull (adult). San Mateo County, California. 08 December 2021.
    • Perhaps a returning individual since at least Jan 2019.
  • Franklin's Gull (1st cycle). Thurston County, Washington. 10 December 2021.
  • Thayer's Gull (1st cycle). Harrison County, Mississippi. 11 December 2021.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (1st cycle). San Mateo County, California. 11 December 2021.
  • Black-headed Gull (adult). Stanislaus County, California. 11 December 2021.
  • Short-billed Gull (1st cycle). Dallas County, Texas. 12 December 2021.
  • Glaucous Gull (1st cycle). Tulare County, California. 12 December 2021. 
  • Ross's Gull (adult type). Alameda County, California. 14 December 2021.
  • California Gull (1st cycle). Volusia County, Florida. 16 December 2021.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (1st cycle). Lawrence County, Alabama. 17 December 2021.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (adult). Clallam County, Washington. 17 December 2021.
  • Franklin's Gull (1st cycle). Orange County, New York. 17 December 2021.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (1st cycle). Douglas County, Kansas. 18 December 2021.
  • California Gull (adult). Bucks County, Pennsylvania. 18 December 2021.
  • Iceland Gull (1st cycle). Midland County, Michigan. 19 December 2021.
    • Apparent nominate individual. 
  • Black-headed Gull (adult). Henrico County, Virginia. 19 December 2021.
  • Short-billed Gull (adult). Kings County, New York. 21 December 2021. 
  • Great Black-backed Gull (2nd cycle). Pueblo County, Colorado. 21 December 2021. 
  • Sabine's Gull (1st cycle). Erie County, New York. 22 December 2021.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). San Mateo County, California. 23 December 2021. 
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Jefferson County, Wisconsin. 24 December 2021. 
  • Ivory Gull (1st cycle). Sept-Rivieres County, Quebec. 25 December 2021.
  • Little Gull (adult). Delaware County, Ohio. 25 December 2021. 
  • Yellow-footed Gull (1st cycle). Mohave County, Arizona. 26 December 2021.
    • Continuing since September 2021.
  • Vega Gull (adult). San Mateo County, California. 27 December 2021.
  • Glaucous Gull (2nd cycle). Blaine County, Oaklahoma. 27 December 2021.
  • Laughing Gull (1st cycle). Erie County, New York. 30 December 2021.
  • Heermann's Gull (1st cycle). Hopewell County, Virginia. 30 December 2021.
    • Continuing since mid-August 2021.
  • Heermann's Gull (adult type). Georgetown County, South Carolina. 30 December 2021.
    • Likely the 3rd cycle East Coast bird last seen in VA in late November.
  • Franklin's Gull (1st cycle). Orange County, New York. 31 December 2021.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Madison County, New York. 31 December 2021.


1. On 02 December 2021, Noah Arthur reported what appears to be the returning Taimyr Gull in Sonoma County, California. This probable Asian gull is now returning for at least the 6th winter.

2. On 30 December 2021, Larry Gardella reported 9 Lesser Black-backed Gulls from the Magnolia Springs Landfill in Baldwin County, Alabama. This is an apparent high count for coastal AL. 

3. On 23-27 December 2021, Chuck Slusarczyk Jr reported a banded adult Ring-billed Gull from Clevland (0785-64995). This is apparently the same individual found here last winter which holds the longevity record for the species. When confirmed, 0785-64995, should be just short of 30 years old. 

December 2021 Quiz


December. Indiana.

Age: This is a large four-cycle gull. The tips to the primaries (p5-p6) directly below the tertials have what appear to be emarginated, pointed tips. Using this feature alone may be misleading and can easily invite thoughts of a 1st cycle. However, the paling iris, gray scaps and mantle feathers, marbled greater coverts and tertials, all combine for a fairly typical 2nd cycle. 

Identification: The shorter legs, small head, and relatively small bill with no bulging gonys angle, give the impression of a refined gull. Plumage-wise, the uniform upperparts with cream-colored aspect have a frosted appearance. The stippling on the greater coverts and tertials, with pale-edged primary tips recall some pale, white-winged influence. This individual is too compact for our larger and more powerful four-cycle gulls such as Glaucous-winged and its hybrids. It also appears too small for Glaucous x Herring, and the upperparts are too finely patterned for Herring. The brownish primaries with pale edging are rather expected on Iceland Gull, and this individual was indeed identified as such. Usually, a more gradual contrast between primaries, tertials and the body is found in Thayer's. The primaries appear too dark for Kumlien's, however. Suffice to say this is a 2nd cycle Iceland Gull with a mixture of Thayer's and Kumlien's features, with primaries tending toward the former.