31 December 2022

December 2022 Quiz


Illinois. November.

Age: The nondescript brown plumage gives every indication of a 1st cycle large gull. In fact, all scapulars, upperwing coverts and tertials are juvenile (1st basic).

Identification: An interesting combination of uniform brown upperparts with neat pale edging throughout can match a number of species in November. But not many combine smooth brown neck, breast and sides, with paling bill. This individual superficially recalls Lesser Black-backed Gull, but that taxon generally lacks a pale bill base at this date, seldom shows pale tips on the primaries and has paler underparts. Our November quiz bird is "just" an American Herring in crisp juvenile plumage. 

01 December 2022

November 2022 Monthly Notables


  • Black-legged Kittiwake (adult). Sherman County, Oregon. 01 November 2022.
  • Great Black-backed Gull (adult). Pueblo County, Colorado. 06 November 2022.
    • Presumably returning individual for the 29th winter.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (1st cycle). Scotts Bluff County, Nebraska. 06 November 2022.
    • Found in Kimball County on 08 November 2022.
  • Little Gull (adult). Grant County, Washington. 07 November 2022.
  • California Gull (1st cycle). St. Lucie County, Florida. 08 November 2022.
  • Kumlien's Gull (1st cycle). Nanaimo District, British Columbia. 10 November 2022.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (1st cycle). Marshall County, Alabama. 11 November 2022.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Benton County, Washington. 16 November 2022.
    • Returning individual since at least 2016.
  • Little Gull (adult). Hughes County, South Dakota. 17 November 2022.
  • Great Black-backed Gull (adult). Stanley County, South Dakota. 18 November 2022.
  • Glaucous Gull (1st cycle). Washington County, Utah. 19 November 2022.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (2 adults)*. Muskegon County, Michigan. 21 November 2022.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Thompson-Nicola District, British Columbia. 21 November 2022.
  • Black-headed Gull (adult). Cuyahoga County, Ohio. 25 November 2022.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (1st cycle). McCormick County, South Carolina. 25 November 2022.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (1st cycle). Lincoln County, Georgia. 25 November 2022.
    • Same individuals from SC.
  • Heermann's Gull (4th cycle). Volusia County, Florida. 29 November 2022.
    • Atlantic Coast bird present since August 2019, now in 4th basic plumage.
  • Heermann's Gull (2nd cycle). Baltimore County, Maryland. 20 November 2022.
    • Continuing bird, presumably the returning 1st State Record individual from March 2022.


  1. Perhaps most interesting this month is what proved to be 2 different adult Slaty-backed Gulls at the Muskegon Wastewater Treatment Plant in Muskegon, Michigan. While observers sensed there was something not quite right about the movement of black-backed gulls they were seeing in the area, no one explicitly picked up on two different birds in the field. It was Liam Singh who keenly discovered this multiplicity while reviewing photos on eBird. Differences in wingtip pattern and head pattern leave no doubt. This is the first time more than one Slaty-backed Gull has been present at the same site in the interior, and perhaps for all of the lower 48.

November 2022 Quiz


February. Indiana.

Age: A large gull with black upperparts immediately narrows down our options to a four-cycle species. Given the adult-like white tips to the flight feathers, with brown markings on the underwing coverts and marked tail, we can be sure this isn't an adult, and best fits a 3rd cycle type.

Identification: Black-backed adults in North America can be approached by leg color, size/structure and wingtip pattern. The massive bill and head, all white tip to p10 (left wing) and pinkish legs point directly to Great Black-backed. Lesser Black-backed is ruled out by overall structure and wingtip pattern (note, some Lessers can show fleshy legs at this age). Western (and Yellow-footed) is ruled out by the white tip to p10. Slaty-backed Gull doesn't typically show this massive bill with large blocky head, and should have broader white tips to the trailing edge. Our November Quiz bird is indeed a 3rd cycle type Great Black-backed.