30 June 2022

June 2022 Quiz


May. Wisconsin.

This is a three-cycle hooded gull. The thick white eye crescents, and broad white trailing edge quite readily limit our choices to Franklin's Gull or Laughing Gull. 

The identification of this individual is critically dependent on correct aging criteria. Note the thin black shaft streaks on the primary coverts and on p6-p8. Also, there is white freckling on the chin, cheeks and around the base of the bill (difficult to see here, but quite noticeable in the field. click on image to enlarge). The bill color is dark and drab for May. All of these features point to a subadult type, despite the adult-like gray upperparts and unmarked tail. In fact, the central tail feathers show a distinctive gray wash, and this is a big pro-Franklin's feature. 

Also, consider the first mid-primary (p6) with complete black subterminal band, and note the white tongue tip that acts as a partition between the gray portion of the feathers and black band. In Laughing Gull, the pattern is solid gray adjacent to solid black, with no white tongue tip. Finally, notice the large gray base to the outer web of p8. Laughing Gull generally has black come up to the primary coverts here. A fleeting look at a bird in flight with such limited black here should immediately elicit thoughts of Franklin's.

Our May Quiz bird is a 1st alternate type Franklin's Gull.