01 October 2023

September 2023 Quiz


Wisconsin. May. 

Age: Our quiz bird is in the center of the frame, in flight. The full tailband and dark ulnar bar across the upperwing suggest a 1st cycle. Given the month, it would be a one-year old, but it still hasn't begun its 2nd prebasic molt as all of the primaries are still intact. 

Identification: The trailing edge to the wing is important, and helps rule out Bonaparte's & Black-headed Gull. There is a trace of dusky pigment across the trailing edge of the outer secondaries and inner primaries, which rules out Black-legged Kittiwake. Given how bold and full the ulnar bar is (for a one-year old), the small bill and dusky cap, it is safe to say that the September Quiz bird is a Little Gull. The two-toned outer primaries (dark outer webs and paler inner webs) also support this ID. 1st cycle Little Gulls show pale wing linings, unlike older individuals which are marked boldly black. The even central tail feathers and full tail band rest any worries of a Ross's Gull. All the surrounding gulls are similar-aged Bonaparte's Gulls.