31 January 2023

January 2023 Quiz

Florida. January.

Age:  A multi-bird quiz. Let's call these front, center and back. The center bird (facing right) seems to be the simplest -- an adult type hooded gull. The front bird is a smaller individual, but a member of the large white-headed gulls and should be a 1st cycle. The bird in the back is also a large white-headed gull, but clearly larger and suggests 2nd cycle. Why are these two white-headed gulls one cycle apart, given that they look somewhat similar? Three-cycle species mature faster, of course. Another way to say this is four-cycle species mature slowly.

Identification: Beginning with the center gull, the somewhat long and droopy black bill, medium gray upperparts, and much black in the wingtip, look spot on for Laughing. The smaller individual in the front has a small bill with pink base. The post-juvenile scapulars (1st alternate) are light gray. The size, in comparison to the Laughing Gull makes this a fairly safe 1st cycle Ring-billed. Ring-billeds often have messier wing coverts at this age, especially this late in the season, but some maintain plain coverts and dark tertials. The 2nd cycle in the back has kept much black on the bill and has obvious slate gray scapulars (2nd alternate). The body size and bill size seem to eliminate Great Black-backed. The only other expected dark-backed (so-called black-backed) species in Florida is Lesser Black-backed, which this is. 2nd cycle Lesser Black-backeds are highly variable. This one looks rather docile and still shows a largely dark eye. 

01 January 2023

December 2022 Monthly Notables


  • California Gull (adult). Jefferson County, Wisconsin. 01 December 2022.
  • California Gull (adult). Butler County, Pennsylvania. 03 December 2022.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (juvenile). Clark County, Nevada. 03 December 2022. 
  • Short-billed Gull (1st cycle). Coffey County, Kansas. 03 December 2022.
  • Kumlien's Gull (adult). Benton County, Oregon. 04 December 2022.
  • Laughing Gull (1st cycle). Humboldt County, California. 04 December 2022.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Dane County, Wisconsin. 05 December 2022.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Franklin County, Washington. 06 December 2022.
  • Thayer's Gull (2nd cycle). Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia. 09 December 2022.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (adult). Eddy County, New Mexico. 09 December 2022.
  • Vega Gull (adult). Wayne County, Michigan. 10 December 2022.
    • 1ST STATE RECORD, pending acceptance.
    • P10 large mirror, P9 no mirror, moderate tongue tips P5-P7. Small mark on outer web of P4.
    • P9-P10 retained, P8 dropped, P7 80% grown. A few outer and inner secondaries growing. 
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Barnstable County, Massachusetts. 11 December 2022.
    • 3rd County Record. 
  • Little Gull (1st cycle). Palm Beach County, Florida. 13 December 2022.
  • California Gull (adult). Cuyahoga County, Ohio. 13 December 2022.
  • Little Gull (adult). Lake County, Tennessee. 16 December 2022.
  • Ivory Gull (1st cycle). Llyodminister County, Saskatchewan. 16 December 2022.
    • 3rd Provincial Record. 
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (juvenile). Yell County, Arkansas. 16 December 2022.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Contra Costa County, California. 16 December 2022.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (juvenile). Payne County, Oklahoma. 17 December 2022.
  • Thayer's Gull (1st cycle). Bucks County, Pennsylvania. 17 December 2022.
  • Franklin's Gull (adult). Lincoln County, Oregon. 18 December 2022.
  • Yellow-footed Gull (adult). Santa Cruz County, California. 17 December 2022.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (4 - 2 ad./2 juves). Grant County, Wisconsin.18 December 2022.
    • Apparent Mississippi River high count.
  • Heermann's Gull (2nd cycle). Baltimore County, Baltimore. 18 December 2022.
    • Continuing. 
  • California Gull (adult). Elkhart County, Indiana. 19 December 2022.
  • California Gull (adult). Seneca County, New York. 21 December 2022.
  • Short-billed Gull (adult). New York County, New York. 23 December 2022.
    • 1st County Record.
  • Heermann's Gull (4th cycle). Volusia County, Florida. 23 December 2022.
    • Atlantic Coast bird, now undergoing 4th prealternate molt (white head).
  • Sabine's Gull (1st cycle). Washington County, Rhode Island. 24 December 2022.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Wayne County, Michigan. 26 December 2022.
  • Kumlien's Gull (1st cycle). Santa Clara County, California. 26 December 2022.
  • Short-billed Gull (adult). Yell County, Arkansas. 29 December 2022.
  • Common Gull (adult)*. Cuyahoga County, Ohio. 30 December 2022.
1. On 10 December 2022, Andy Dettling found an adult Vega Gull in Wayne County, Michigan. This individual displayed all the field marks needed for this taxon, and would constitute a state first pending acceptance. Vega Gull is treated as a subspecies of Herring Gull by the AOS, but many bodies have now elevated it to species status.

 2. On 30 December 2022. Todd Eiben found an adult Common Gull in Cuyahoga County, Ohio. This individual shows intermediate features that are most consistent with Kamchatka Gull (L canus kamtschatschensis), albeit on the smaller end of the curve. The wingtip pattern is most interesting with a mix of features that combine canus, heinei and kamtschatschensis. It is doubtful that this bird will be confidently identified to subspecies.