31 December 2023

December 2023 Monthly Notables


  • Yellow-footed Gull (3rd cycle/ad type). Clark County, Nevada. 01 December 2023.
    • Continuing. Presumably a returning bird, from March 2022.
  • Sabine's Gull (2 ad; 1st cycle). Lincoln County, Oregon. 02 December 2023.
  • Gray Gull (3rd cycle). Walton County, Florida. 05 December 2023.
    • 1st ABA-record individual back after a 20-day absence.
  • Great Black-backed Gull (1st cycle). Okanagan-Similkameen District, British Columbia. 06 December 2023.
    • 3rd Province Record. 
  • Great Black-backed Gull (adult). Pueblo County, Colorado. 08 December 2023.
    • Presumably the same individual, now back for the 30th winter! Yes, "thirty".
  • Laughing Gull (1st cycle). Durham County, Ontario. 09 December
  • Little Gull (adult). Los Angeles County, California. 10 December 2023.
    • Last county sighting ~20 years ago. 
  • Black-headed Gull (adult). Montgomery County, Maryland. 10 December 2023.
    • 1st County Record.
  • Yellow-footed Gull (1st cycle). Randall County, Texas. 11 December 2023.
  • Heermann's Gull (5th cycle). Volusia County, Florida. 12 December 2023.
    • Continuing Atlantic Coast bird.
  • Great Black-backed Gull (3rd cycle type). Ellsworth County, Kansas. 12 December 2023.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Elkhart County, Indiana. 14 December 2023.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (2nd cycle). Sunshine Coast District, British Columbia. 17 December 2023.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (1st cycle). Washoe County, Nevada. 21 December 2023.
  • California Gull (adult). Lee County, Iowa. 21 December 2023.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult type). Contra Costa County, California. 21 December 2023.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Middlesex County, Ontario. 22 December 2023.
  • Laughing Gull (1st cycle). Santa Cruz County, California. 25 December 2023.
  • Kamchatka Gull (adult). Fairfield County, Connecticut. 27 December 2023.
    • Presumably a returning bird since at least 2019.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Benton County, Washington. 26 December 2023.
    • Continuing.
  • Black-headed Gull (adult). Santa Cruz County, California. 27 December 2023.
    • 1st County Record.


1. Janice Tidwell Allen reported a Yellow-footed Gull (1st cycle) in Amarillo, Texas on 11 December 2023. This 1st state record was apparently present as early as 05 November 2023, but was overlooked and reported as a Herring Gull by some. This now constitutes the easternmost record for the species.

December 2023 Quiz


Age: A straight-forward 1st cycle large gull.

Identification: Our December Quiz is not trivial, especially out of context. Would it help if you knew it was photographed in England, in December? Of course!

The most noticeable feature on this individual is the pale tail base with whitish ground color. The fairly narrow tailband, thin horizontal barring on the post-juvenile scapulars, barred greater coverts and dark tips to the outer webs of the inner primaries all support European Herring Gull. Yellow-legged Gull averages darker inner primaries without this prominent window effect. Great Black-backed averages a more peppered blackish look to the upperparts, but variable. The smaller head and relatively thin bill also point away from Great Black-backed, which surprisingly, was the most popular response this month. 

A relevant question to ask is how would 1st cycle Vega Gull be ruled out? Out of range, it would present quite the challenge for even the most seasoned gull-watcher. That species averages more barring on the outer greater coverts, more intricately patterned proximal region to the tail band, more barring on the base of the outermost tail feather, and if visible, warmer brown underwing and underparts. Given the great variability in these 1st cycle taxa, it goes without saying that in North America, many won't be safely identified. 

02 December 2023

November 2023 Quiz


March. Illinois.

Age: The marbled greater coverts, overall muted pattern to the upperparts, and rounded primary tips suggest a delayed 2nd cycle type. Our November bird is a four-cycle species, and the upper mantle shows some subtle, adult-like gray, which also points away from a 1st cycle.

Identification: The fairly straight and short bill, small rounded-head, low-contrast upperparts and brownish primaries with pale edging are all fairly typical of a 2nd cycle Thayer's Gull. For comparison, a 2nd cycle American Herring is in the background, showing a messier appearance with high contrast from the primaries to the tertials, and tertials to the wing coverts. Our November Quiz gull is a small, female type, Thayer's Gull. 

November 2023 Monthly Notables


  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (1st cycle & adult). Imperial County, California. 01 November 2023.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Baffin County, Nunavut. 04 November 2023.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Cochrane County, Ontario. 04 November 2023.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (1st cycle). Cook County, Illinois. 04 November 2023.
    Lesser Black-backed Gull (adult). Clallam County, Washington. 04 November 2023.
    • Presumably a returning adult, now back for a third winter.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (adult). Alameda County, California. 05 November 2023.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (adult). Calgary County, Alberta. 06 November 2023.
  • Kumlien's Gull (adult). Central Okanagan District, British Columbia. 06 November 2023.
    • Presumably a returning adult.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (1st cycle). Nueces County, Texas. 07 November 2023.
  • Ivory Gull (1st cycle). Rouyn-Noranda County, Quebec. 08 November 2023.
  • Heermann's Gull (5th cycle). Volusia County, Florida. 09 November 2023.
    • Atlantic Coast bird repositioning. 
  • Short-billed Gull (1st cycle). Hughes County, South Dakota. 09 November 2023.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (3rd cycle type). Los Angeles County, California. 10 November 2023.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (1st cycle). Horry County, South Carolina. 10 November 2023.
  • Short-billed Gull (1st cycle). Renfrew County, Ontario. 11 November 2023.
    • Continuing from October 2023. 
  • Thayer's Gull (adult). Washington County, Rhode Island. 13 November 2023.
  • Glaucous Gull (1st cycle). Yavapai County, Arizona. 13 November 2023.
    • 1st County Record.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (1st cycle). Calgary County, Alberta. 14 November 2023.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (3rd cycle type). San Diego County, California. 17 November 2023.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (1st cycle). Los Angeles County, California. 20 November 2023.
  • Little Gull (adult). Payne & Noble County, Oklahoma. 22/28 November 2023.
    • Likely the same adult serving as a 1st County Record for both Payne & Noble.
  • Glaucous-winged Gull (2nd cycle). Essex County, Ontario. 25 November 2023.
    • Glaucous-winged type, showing fairly dark primaries and tertials.
  • Black-headed Gull (adult). Chatham County, North Carolina. 25 November 2023.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (1st cycle). Payne County, Oklahoma. 25 November 2023.
  • Yellow-footed Gull (3rd cycle). Clark County, Nevada. 25 November 2023
    • Continuing from last month. Presumably a returning bird, from March 2022.
  • Gray Gull (3rd cycle type). Baldwin County, Alabama. 27 November 2023.
    • 1ST STATE RECORD*. Same individual from Walton County, FL.
  • Slaty-backed Gull (adult). Benton County, Washington. 28 November 2023.
    • Returning adult with semipalmated feet, wintering here since at least 2016.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (1st cycle). Pima County, Arizona. 28 November 2023.

View with Google Maps


*The 1st ABA Gray Gull from Walton County, Florida was last seen on 15 November 2023, but was later spotted by Don Clark from the Dauphin Island-Fort Morgan Ferry in Baldwin County, Alabama on 27 November 2023. Attempts to relocate this Albama 1st State Record were unsuccessful. Interestingly, this individual performed a similar jaunt in late September where it was relocated 40-50 miles to the west in Pensacola Beach. It would behoove observers from the Walton County, Florida region to continue searching for the Gray Gull at Dune Allen Beach.