01 November 2023

October 2023 Quiz


September. California. 

Age: The overall fresh patterned coverts, mottled head and body, black primaries and dark tail suggest a 1st cycle.

Identification: Given the location, Western, Herring and California Gull are in the running. Several features support California Gull, including the small head, fairly straight bill that is already almost completely pale in September, as well as the long wing projection. The extensive white areas to the greater coverts are unexpected in American Herring. Western Gull is ruled out by bill size and overall structure. Also note the plain post-juvenile scapulars, which are common in California Gull, but usually dark-centered in Western. 

The October Quiz bird is a relatively large (m?) 1st cycle California Gull. 

October 2023 Monthly Notables


  • Black-headed Gull (adult). Anchorage, Alaska. 03 October 2023.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (adults). Baffin County, Nunavut. 06 October 2023.
  • Little Gull (1st cycle). Otero County, New Mexico. 08 October 2023.
  • Kamchatka Gull (adult). Rimouski-Neigette County, Quebec. 09 October 2023.
  • Great Black-backed Gull (adult). Hughes County, South Dakota. 09 October 2023.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (adult). Lethbridge County, Alberta. 10 October 2023.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (adult type). Red Deer County, Alberta. 12 October 2023.
  • Common Gull (adult). Humber District-Corner Brook County, NL. 12 October 2023.
  • Thayer's Gull (adult). Pima County, Arizona. 13 October 2023.
    • 1st County Record.
  • GRAY GULL (3rd cycle type). Walton County, Florida. 18 October 2023.
    • Continuing 1st ABA record, on and off all month, completing 3rd prebasic molt. 
  • Yellow-footed Gull (3rd cycle). Clark County, Nevada. 20 October 2023.
    • Presumably a returning bird, first detected in March 2022 as a 1st cycle.
  • Glaucous Gull (1st cycle). Cape May County, New Jersey. 20 October 2023.
  • Great Black-backed Gull (adult). Galveston County, Texas. 21 October 2023.
  • Little Gull (1st cycle). Decatur County, Kansas. 22 October 2023.
    • 1st County Record.
  • Heermann's Gull (5th cycle). Duval County, Florida. 22 October 2023.
    • Present all month, now in 5th basic plumage. 
  • Laughing Gull (2nd cycle type). Pacific County, Washington. 22 October 2023.
  • California Gull (2nd cycle). Clinton County, Illinois. 23 October 2023.
  • Little Gull (adult). North Battleford County, Saskatchewan. 24 October 2023.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (1st cycle). Union County, Oregon. 25 October 2023.
    • 1st County Record.
  • Short-billed Gull (juvenile). Renfrew County, Ontario. 26 October 2023.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult type). Baffin County, Nunavut. 31 October 2023.


  • The Florida Gray Gull was reported throughout the month in Walton County, but it's obvious the bird moves to unknown locations at times where it goes unnoticed. Most secondaries are now replaced, revealing a rather broad white trailing edge consistent with 2nd/3rd basic feathers. Given the earlier images from June 2023, the most likely explanation is the bird is now in 3rd basic.  
  • Nick Ramsey reports Chandeleur Gulls (presumed hybrid Kelp x Herrings from the Chandeleur Islands off the coast of Louisiana) were present on the islands on 30 October 2023. According to Donna Dittmann, this is a departure from years past where these hybrids would leave the area after breeding. 
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull continues to expand its nonbreeding range in the interior. At Findlay Reservoir in Hancock County, Ohio, Edward Hicks recorded no less than 438 individuals, which is likely an undercount of birds arriving to roost at dusk. This serves as a new interior high count for North America, away from the Atlantic.

    The October 2023 eBird map shows an obvious incursion north, as far as southern Alberta (~ 4) and British Columbia, and as far west as Tillamook County, Oregon and Humboldt County, California on the Pacific. The number of singletons reported west of the Rockies is simply awesome. Finally, sightings from southern Baffin Island around Iqaluit have increased in the last 2-3 years, likely due to increased coverage.