Kevin J. McGowan
Distance Learning in Bird Biology
Cornell Lab of Ornithology
159 Sapsucker Woods Road
Ithaca, NY 14850
From: <bounce-121321009-3714916...> <bounce-121321009-3714916...> on behalf of Willie D'Anna <dannapotter...>
Sent: Friday, March 10, 2017 5:43 PM
To: 'Geneseebirds'; <geneseebirds-l...>; 'David Suggs'; NYSBIRDS-L
Subject: [nysbirds-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.