Date: 3/10/17 2:43 pm
From: Bird observations from western New York <geneseebirds-l...>
Subject: [GeneseeBirds-L] Black-headed - Ring-billed Gull hybrid at Goat Island
For the second straight day, a very rare BLACK-HEADED GULL - RING-BILLED
GULL hybrid was seen at Goat Island on the Niagara River. The bird was found
yesterday by Derek Lovitch from Maine and another birder but tentatively
identified as a Laughing Gull - Ring-billed Gull hybrid. Both of these
hybrid forms have been recorded before. Derek told Chris Kundl about the
bird and Chris was able to obtain photographs yesterday and today. It was
Chris who initially and correctly, I believe, identified the bird as a
Black-headed X Ring-billed.

Although most birders will not chase a hybrid, you are unlikely to see this
form ever again, as it is extremely rare. Yesterday, the bird was in the
parking lot on the upriver (east) end of the island. This is the end away
from the falls. Today, it was in the shallows just off of Goat Island, on
the rock shelf above Three Sisters islands - the usual place where the gulls
roost. It was very close to shore today and although Chris was able to show
me the bird today, I was not prepared to photograph it, as this was just an
impromptu stop. The bird is in alternate plumage with a hood that is not
solidly black. The bill is orangy-red with a black band. The legs are dull
orange. The primaries and primary coverts show a weak representation of the
typical white wedge on the upperwing that is seen on Bonaparte's and
Black-headed Gulls. However, there were also some black marks in the white.
The undersides of the primaries are not dusky, as on a Black-headed Gull.
The folded wingtips look similar to those of the Ring-billed Gulls - black
with white apical spots on each primary. The structure of this bird seems
closer to a Ring-billed Gull than a Black-headed Gull to me, though slightly
smaller and smaller-billed. Note that this bird frequently buried itself
among the many Ring-billed Gulls here and could be very hard to pick out,
despite it's obvious hood. It was the only hooded gull at Goat Island.

Photos of this bird can be seen in Chris's eBird checklist, here:

There are still lots of other less common gulls around Goat Island,
especially Lesser Black-backed and Iceland Gulls, with a few Thayer's Gulls
as well.

Good birding!



Willie D'Anna

Wilson, NY

My photos:

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