Are You Ready for Winter Gulls? You Will be After This!

Gulls are considered by some as the most challenging group of birds in the ABA area to identify. As challenging as it is, why not try to learn today how to differentiate these marvelous creatures! 

This time, we will go deep into the identification of six gull species (Herring, Ring-billed, Iceland, Glaucous, Lesser Black-backed, and Great Black-backed) plus two Iceland Gull subspecies, covering and explaining everything from greater primaries to the orbital ring.

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These are the parts of the gull’s wing that we will talk about most.

 

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What we will look at in a sitting gull.

 

Lets first start off with the Iceland Gull, a complex of subspecies that is still debated today over the species status! THIS ARTICLE IS ABOUT WINTER GULLS ONLY, SOME OF THESE TIPS MAY NOT HELP YOU IN THE IDENTIFICATION OF SUMMER BIRDS!

Kumlien’s Gull – Larus glaucoides kumlieni

The kumlieni subspecies of Iceland Gull has always been a challenging identification-even for the experts. They are variable in the color of their outer primaries (P6 – P10), and look very similar to many other gull species. So how can you ID it? In-flight: Let’s first look at the outer primaries on the underwing. Are they grey, white, or black? If they are a light grey, then that will help differentiate it from other species and subspecies of Iceland Gull. Another field mark to look at is its size. They are generally in between the size of a Herring and a Ring-billed. The next step is to snap a photo of the gull and try to ID it for yourself. Standing: Okay, I have to admit that this is quite hard, but you can still ID it! First look at the greater primaries. They should be light grey. Next, check the leg color. It should be a dark pink. Lastly, check out how much streaking is on the head. If it is sparsely streaked, then you have yourself a good candidate for a kumlieni Iceland. 1st year: Look for a light-colored mottled bird with no black at all in the wings. Now you have eliminated many possible species.  But to be sure it is, in fact, a kumlieni Iceland, we should look at the size compared to nearby gulls (in most cases Herring and Ring-billed). It should be in between the size of both of them, any bigger, and it is probably a Glaucous. Lastly, look at the bill. Is it all black? If so, combined with everything mentioned above, you should have a fairly good ID on this tricky bird! 2nd year: In this cycle of Kumlien’s Gull, the bird may appear very pale. Unlike many other 2nd-year gull species, the Kumlien’s Gull looks much more uniform. The only other 2nd-year gull that looks similar to a 2nd year Kumlien’s is Glaucous, which is usually bigger. Now we have to look at the bill proportion. If the bird in question is a Glaucous, then it would have a very large stalky bill, where as Kumlien’s, would have a smaller bill in proportion to its head. We can also look at its overall structure.  If the bird is fairly slender, it is almost definitely a Kumlien’s as Glaucous Gulls tend to be more stalky. 3rd year: Very similar to an adult, but may have a more pale bill and usually shows some brown on the wings and tail.

Thayer’s Gull – Larus glaucoides thayeri

This bird has a long history of being lumped with species and then split again- just last year the American Ornithological Society (AOS) lumped it with Iceland Gull. Overall, for most people, this is the hardest gull to identify. They vary greatly in the color of their outer primaries (sometimes almost reaching the darkness of a Herring and other times almost reaching the greyness of a kumlieni subspecies Iceland), and they are roughly the same size as a kumlieni subspecies. Now, we will move onto how to identify this bird. In-flight: Look at the underwing. Is the black limited to the tips and the inner webs? If so, it is time to look at the upperwing. It should look similar to a Herring or Ring-billed. Again though, I would get a picture and look in a guide to make sure that you have a correct ID (at least when you start out with learning gulls). Standing: This can be very tricky. Take a look at the greater primaries. Unlike a Herring Gull, with white spots on the greater primaries, the Thayer’s has white bands when sitting (especially on P6 and P7). When starting out with gulls, I would highly suggest either 1- waiting for the bird to fly or 2- getting a good picture of it and posting it somewhere experts can ID it for you. 1st year: These birds are very similar to a 1st year Herring, however, it is possible to identify it in flight! Let’s first take a look at the greater primaries. A typical 1st-year Thayer’s will have dark outer webs on the greater primaries and light colored inner webs on the greater primaries too. 1st year Thayer’s Gulls also generally have dark secondaries and unlike a Herring Gull, the Thayer’s has a pale underwing. After you have gathered all of those field marks, you can fairly conclusively ID it as a Thayer’s! 2nd year: This cycle of Thayer’s Gulls have a grey mantle, mottled wings, and black wing tips just like most other 2nd year gulls. So how do we differentiate them? If you can you can see the eye color, the Thayer’s is dark, whereas Herring’s is pale. Most of the time you cannot see the eye color so what do you do? The best idea is look at the primaries and secondaries. Is there a huge contrast between the primaries and secondaries and the rest of the wing? If so, you are most likely looking at a Herring. 3rd year: Similar to adult, but may have some brown on the tail and wing.

Glaucous Gull – Larus hyperboreus

In my opinion, this is one of the most beautiful birds found in the ABA area. A huge pure white bird, the Glaucous Gull, is one of the most sought-after birds in the country. I remember the first time I saw one. I just stood still in awe over this magnificent bird! Enough babbling about how pretty this bird is, let’s get onto identifying it! In-flight: First off, is the bird large and pure white except for the bill? If so, you may have just had a Glaucous Gull! But wait, some Kumlien’s Gulls can reach near pure white greater primaries and the vagrant nominate Iceland (ssp. glaucoides) has pure white greater primaries. Now we have to look at the size and structure of the bird. As I mentioned earlier, if the bird in question is a Glaucous, then it would have a very large stalky bill, whereas Kumlien’s or a nominate Iceland would have a smaller bill in proportion to its head. For the overall structure, if the bird is fairly slender, it is almost definitely a Kumlien’s as Glaucous Gulls tend to be more stalky. Standing: If you see a Glaucous gull standing, your first reaction might be “Woah look at that huge white bird out there”. After you have concluded that your bird is all white, the question remains- how to tell it apart from an Iceland? Well, it is the same rule as above, with that, you should be able to get a fairly confident ID on the bird. 1st year: first-year birds are usually off-white overall. Really, the only bird you could confuse them with again is an Iceland Gull. Here is a nifty trick for separating 1st-year Glaucous Gulls from Iceland Gulls (all ssp), the bill! The bill of a first year Glaucous Gull is bi-colored, whereas all Iceland Gull first-year birds are all black. 2nd year: Like all stages of Glaucous Gulls, the only bird you could really confuse this with are all of the Iceland Gull subspecies, which can be separated by using the rule up above in the in-flight section. For porpuses of identifying what year the bird is, 2nd-year birds are usually more white than 1st-year birds but retain the some of the very light brown mottling on 1st-year birds. 3rd year: very similar to adult, but the bill more resembles a 2nd-year bird and may have a brownish wash on the tail and wings.

Lesser Black-backed Gull – Larus fuscus

The Lesser Black-backed Gull is a wintering visitor from Europe that just recently began booming in numbers across the ABA area. In fact, up until a few years ago they were listed on the ABA checklist as a code 3! In-flight: There is only one other common gull here that you could confuse this with, the Great Black-backed Gull, and separating them is fairly straight-forward! First off, is the bird in between the size of a Ring-billed and a Herring or is it a true monster in terms of size? If it is in between the size of a Ring-billed and a Herring then it is almost certainly a Lesser Black-backed. Want to be unquestionably, 100% positive though? Then we need to look at the color of the wings and mantle. They should be very dark grey but not black. Also, look at the head. On a typical Lesser Black-backed, there will be some streaking, whereas, a Great Black-backed Gull would have an almost jet black wings & mantle. Additionally, there would be no streaking at all on the head. Standing: Again, this bird could only be confused with a Great Black-backed. Unlike when it is in flight, you can see the leg color. Is it pink or yellow? Yellow means Lesser Black-backed and pink (if it is the right size) may be a very rare Slaty-backed Gull or just a Great Black-backed. 1st year: This bird can be confused with multiple species. Its size can differentiate it from Great Black-backed but not much else. First, we need to look at the wings. If it is a Lesser Black-backed, it would be very dark, eliminating all the Iceland Gull subspecies and Glaucous Gull. In a first-year Lesser Black-backed, the head will also be much lighter than the wings which is not found in a normal Herring or Ring-billed. From these characteristics, we can almost positively ID the bird. However, for beginners, I would highly suggest getting a picture and sending it to experts. 2nd year: Similar to 1st-year but it shows some dark grey on the mantle and the bill is bi-colored vs. solid black. You can use the same rule for 1st-year birds here. 3rd year: Very similar to adult but some birds may show black on the tail.

Great Black-backed Gull – Larus marinus

This bird is the largest gull in the world. It is an expert predator and robber- able to snatch adult puffins in mid-flight while ruling all the other gulls by stealing their food! In-flight: Not much can be confused with this bird. Its monstrous size along with its jet-black wings and mantle make this bird almost un-mistakable!  We need to look at the color of the wings and mantle. They should be jet-black, not dark grey. Also, look at the head. On a typical Great Black-backed, there will be absolutely no streaking, whereas, a Lesser Black-backed Gull would have dark grey wings & mantle as well as some streaking on the head. Standing: Again, this bird can be conclusively identified by its size alone. You might say “then why are you telling me how to separate it from a Lesser Black-backed?”. Well, what if you can’t find anything to compare it to? First, we should look at the color of the legs. If the bird is a Great Black-backed then it will have bright pink legs, whereas, a Lesser Black-backed would have bright yellow legs. 1st-year: As I have mentioned many times, this bird can be identified just by size alone, but if no comparison is available then you will have to use other field marks. First look at the head. A Great Black-backed would have limited streaking, whereas, a Lesser Black-backed would have much streaking. When sitting, a first-year Great Black-backed looks surprisingly light-colored (like a Herring).  Now, let’s take a look at the head and underside. A normal 1st winter Great Black-backed will have a very light colored head and underside -unlike a Herring which has a darker head and underside. 2nd year: Fairly similar to a 1st-year bird but it has a bi-colored bill, all white underside & head, and it starts to get black on the mantle. This bird is pretty much unmistakable. To be certain, you can use the rule for first-year birds here. 3rd year: Similar to adult but shows some brown on the wings. It may show some black on its tail and has a dark ring around the bill.

Herring Gull – Larus argentatus vs. Ring-billed Gull Larus delawarensis

Perhaps the most common gull in the US, the Herring Gull is a familiar sight. In Illinois, you commonly see flocks of 200 or more Herring Gulls in the winter and within those flocks, there can be some treasures like a Lesser Black-backed, Glaucous, etc. In-flight: Your typical gull- grey mantle & wings with black greater primaries, a yellow bill with a red gonydeal spot, and in winter, a streaked head. Here is a quick ID tip I learned from another birder about a year ago- when you’re trying to quickly ID gulls in-flight (you’re probably dealing with Ring-billed and Herring if you are in Illinois) just look at the angle of the elbow. If it has a sharper angle it is a Ring-billed, if it is a smaller angle then it is Herring. Standing: If you are trying to tell the Ring-billed Gulls from Herring Gulls then look at the size. Herring Gulls are bigger and Ring-billed are smaller. A quicker way to ID them though is to look at the leg color. Herring Gulls have pink legs and Ring-billed Gulls have yellow. 1st year: These birds can vary greatly in terms of plumage coloration- some are a lighter brown and others are a dark brown. Plumage coloration is a good way to separate these birds from Ring-billed Gulls which tend to be much lighter in coloration. 2nd year: In this stage, the Herring Gulls are fairly easy to separate from Ring-billed as 2nd-year Ring-billed Gulls are usually much more similar to the adult stage. 3rd year: Can be tricky to ID as these birds have much variation, some looking like a 2nd-year bird while others can look similar to an adult bird.

Although many view gulls one of the hardest group of birds to identify, distinguishing them can be very exciting and rewarding. I hope that the article above has inspired you to learn more about these marvelous birds. I want to give a special thanks to Amar Ayyash, whose wisdom and guidance over the last few years has given me a greater appreciation of the complexity of gulls.

September ILYB trip

HI! This is Simon, posting for ILYB in the Calumet area of Chicago. Today, Sept. 10, ILYB started our day at Eggers Grove. Right off the bat we had a Red-eyed Vireo and several warbler species, including Northern Parula and Tennessee Warbler. Next, we went to the marshy pond where we had a Cooper’s Hawk, Green and Black-crowned Night Herons, among other birds. As we walked along the trail the electrical wires were buzzing so loud it sounded like rain! Heading back towards the cars a few highlights were Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Grey-cheeked Thrush and scary ground squirrels! After Eggers we made a quick stop to see Monk Parakeets in their nests. Not only did we see them, we could also hear them and smell them. Then we hopped back in our cars and headed to Hegewisch Marsh to find many surprise birds: a Mute Swan family, Stilt, Solitary and Spotted Sandpipers, Short-billed and Long-billed Dowitchers, lots of Lesser Yellowlegs, Blue-winged Teals, Common Gallinules, and Pied-billed Grebes. A small group continued, including Thomas, Peter and me, on to Burnham Prairie to find not much, except an undetermined Dowitcher, Killdeer, Spotted Sandpiper, Great Egrets, Great Blue and Green Herons, a Savannah Sparrow and a Red-Tailed Hawk chasing a Turkey Vulture to cap the day off!

September 9th WBC walk

Today we started at Gilson Park, a fairly small park on Lake Michigan but good for migrants. Winds did not seem to be in our favour for passerine migrants but looked good for jaegers and Sabine’s Gulls so Lucas and I scanned for those rare seabirds but to no avail. Next, we met up with our leader today, Isoo O’Brien (although it was only Isoo, Lucas, and me for the first hour and a half). Isoo showed us the best spots for migrants at Gilson and he was right as it was filled with vireos (yes, vireos not warblers, LOL)! We ended up with about 15 vireos of 3 species, but Isoo thought that we should check out Perkin’s Woods, a small wooded area in the town of Evanston. I’m glad we did as we found a Grey-cheeked Thrush and numerous warblers including three Golden-winged! Unfortunately, we could not stay here long, only about 15 minutes, as we had to be at the Northwestern University grounds by 8:30 to meet up with ENSBC for that part of the walk. Isoo led us through the campus ground finding us 14 species of warblers including an Ovenbird, Golden-winged Warblers, a Northern Waterthrush, a couple Cape May Warblers, and a nice Wilson’s Warbler! After the rest of the group left, Lucas and me continued birding picking up Chestnut-sided Warbler, some Sanderlings on the beach, and a bird that looked eerily reminiscent of a jaeger that flew past us while we were scanning the lake. Overall a great day!

Ready for fall migration? Here are a few tips and tricks on how to identify small migrant passerines

I am incredibly fortunate to be able to sit on our outdoor couch, on a weekday morning in September, and spot many migrants directly above my head (once during a small fallout, I had at least 100 warblers flitting in the trees right above me). From that, I have gained lots of knowledge of the passerine migrants that pass through the Chicago region. Autumn migration is slightly better here in Carpentersville, which is somewhat unfortunate because the migrants are much more colorful and easier to identify them in the spring. So below I will give you some tips and tricks on how to correctly identify fall passerines:

SOME OF THE FIELD MARKS MENTIONED:

Wondering how to determine whether your bird is a warbler, a vireo, or a kinglet? Simply look at the bill, thick for a vireo; medium, dagger-like for a warbler; and thin, needle-like for a kinglet. This method usually works, but be cautious and please consult other resources (field guides, etc.) on this topic.

 

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Yellow-rumped Warbler – “where are those bugs?”

 

Part 1: warblers

What to look for in a warbler?

Color, pattern, undertail coverts & tail feathers, and wingbars.

  1. First, start off with, what is the overall color of your bird (e.g., pale yellow, bright yellow, gray, brown, etc.)? This alone can separate many passerine species into different groups.
  2. Next, move on to the overall pattern (does the bird have lots of streaking and a highly contrasting head and underside or is it just plain?). This again can eliminate many passerine species.
  3. Look at the undertail coverts (untc) and tail feathers (tfs)(see sketch above).
  4. Does the bird have wingbars? This field mark will eliminate even more warblers!

Now you should be able to ID the bird through a field guide, but what about the ones that look similar?

Orange-crowned vs. Tennessee

Envision yourself at Illinois’s premier birding spot, Montrose Point and you are walking through the magic hedge in late September, and you locate a pale warbler that is an Orange-crowned or a Tennessee Warbler. You might look in a field guide and think, “how on earth am I going to be able to identify this?”. Okay, the ID is hard, but you can ID it (hopefully). Well first, let’s check out the facial pattern. Tennesse Warblers have a pale supercilium and a dark eyeline. Orange-crowned Warblers, on the other hand, have a VERY plain face. I would not call the ID with that field mark alone (unless you got a crystal clear photo of it and even then I don’t know if I would call it). Now, we can look at the undertail.  Does it have pale tfs or dark and does it have a yellow untc or white? Dark tfs and yellow untc for Orange-crowned and pale tfs and white untc for Tennessee. Now, from those three field marks, we can fairly confidently identify it. Please do your own research and try to get more field marks, but hopefully, this gives you an idea of how to differentiate these very similar species and you can ID that tricky bird at Montrose!

Blackburnian vs. Bay-breasted vs. Blackpoll vs. Pine

“Now what? You’re informing me that there are four warblers that look very similar!” Yes, there are four warblers that look alike, and these can cause quite a headache for some birders including me! But there are ways to tell them apart. let’s start off with the facial pattern. Bay-breasted Warblers have white eye-arcs, a dark eyeline, and an otherwise plain face. Blackburnian Warblers have a very pronounced pale supercilium connecting to a pale collar making the dark ear coverts a diagnostic mark. Now on to the Blackpoll Warbler, which has a dark crown (most of the time) & eyeline and pale eye-arcs, ear coverts, and throat. Pine Warblers have a plain head with white eye-arcs and a faint eyeline. Okay, we know the facial pattern, but that’s just not enough (except for Blackburnian). Now we need to know if the back has streaking or not. If the back does, in fact, have streaking, then we can eliminate Pine, and if the facial pattern does not match Blackburnia, then we can rule that out too! Does your bird have streaking? If so, we can eliminate Bay-breasted, and if the bird has a rusty patch on its flanks, then we can eliminate everything except for Bay-breasted.

Finally, done with the tricky IDs!

Plumbeous Vireo – “I like this branch in South Dakota”

Part 2: vireos

What to look for in a vireo?

  1. What is the overall color of the bird (e.g., white & yellow, yellow, white& blue, gray, etc.)?
  2. What is the color of the head? You might be surprised at how many birds this field mark alone can eliminate.
  3. Does it have “spectacles”?

Cassin’s vs. Plumbeous vs. Blue-headed

This is the only hard identification within the vireo group in North America, but it can be solved usually with the simple question, WHERE ARE YOU? If you are reading this you’re probably in Illinois, so the short answer is Blue-headed. “But I want to be certain about the ID, I don’t want to miss a vagrant” you may say, neither would I! So, we’ll start off with the head. What is the head color? Is it more of a gray or blue and does the head color blend into the back? If the head is bluer, and there is a sharp contrast between the head and back, then give up, it’s a Blue-headed:( If not, GET A PHOTO AND POST IT EVERYWHERE! Probably still a Blue-headed though. “WAIT! There were supposed to be three birds in this group, right?” Yes, but Plumbeous is easier to identify than the other two, basically, it is all gray, but in bad lighting, it can still be a challenge. So what do we do? My suggestion, if you REALLY want to make sure it is a Blue-headed and not a Plumbeous, then wait for it to come into better lighting.

 

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Ruby-crowned Kinglet – “What is that human doing?”

 

Part 3: kinglets

Not sure how to identify kinglets?

We’ll start with the crown. Golden-crowned Kinglets have a golden median crown stripe (the very top of their head) & an otherwise black cap. Ruby-crowned, on the other hand, have an olive-colored crown with a usually concealed trademark ruby crown patch (again on the very top of its head). This alone can conclusively differentiate the two. We can also tell from the rest of the head. Golden-crowned have a  very pronounced white supercilium, below the eye is also white, making it look like it has an olive-colored mask. Now, the Ruby-crowned version, has a plain olive-colored face. So basically, if the head looks plain, it is a Ruby-crowned, and if the head has a neat pattern, it’s a Golden-crowned.

The back of a kinglet?

“Kinglets are easy for most birders, why are you writing this?” Well, what if you could only see the back, then could you identify it?

This time we only focus back of the bird!

  1. Look at the wings, do they have lots of gold in them? If so, it is probably a Golden-crowned but some Ruby-crowned Kinglets do have lots of gold in their wings as well.
  2. Overall coloration, Ruby-crowned Kinglets are usually a brown vs. Golden-crowned a gray, but not diagnostic.
  3. Ruby-crowned Kinglets have almost always two wingbars and although Golden-crowned Kinglets can show two wingbars, they are usually not as prominent as a typical Ruby-crowned.

You may never be certain by just looking at the back but you can get a pretty good guess! See if you can guess what the bird below is!

 

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What is this kinglet? Answer below!

 

Looking for more info on warblers? You should check out The Warbler Guide by Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle (which helped me very much with this post)! Vireos and kinglets? Try the National Geographic Complete Guide to Birds of North America (which also helped me with this post)!

Lastly, if you see ANY misinformation please comment below.

 

The above photo is of a Ruby-crowned Kinglet

August 27 WBC walk

Today we started at the Kaneville Cemetary at 7:30 AM (with half the group being named Ben, LOL) in search for the White-winged Dove, no success:( So we walked across the street to Dunteman Sod Farms, where to be found were at least 6 American Golden-Plovers! At around 9:00 AM it started raining, so we decided to head over to Nelson Lake to see if anything was there. When we got to the observation deck, we saw some Common Gallinules, a Green Heron and more. Next, we found a birder (mentioned here as “the birder”, who’s name eludes me) who told us he had some good birds farther down the trail. But before we went there, we met a guy who was about to fly an R/C plane to map the nests in Nelson Lake, pretty cool, plus Ben Sanders got to launch it! The birder led us to the spot, and we found More Common Gallinules, a few shorebirds, a couple Soras, and a Black-Crowned Night-Heron! It started to rain again, this time harder, so we ended our walk, and I think we did fairly well!

Unfortunately, no photos to share with you today as I didn’t want to ruin my camera:(

 

2nd annual ILYB Symposium

Yesterday, we went to Ryerson Conservation Area to attend the 2nd annual ILYB Symposium. Me and Lucas Rot got there a little early so we did a little birding before the official walk, right off the bat, we had a flyover Pileated Woodpecker and numerous unidentified small passerines! At 7:30 AM the official ILYB field trip began, and instantly we had a Red-headed Woodpecker, a Blue-winged Warbler, and much more! We walked down the trail towards “warbler ally” (where no warblers we to be found) and we got an Olive-sided Flycatcher thanks to Jen Brumfield and more. After the field trip ended, we signed into the symposium, and after a little confusion with the t-shirts, we watched the presentations by Andrew Sharp, Jackie Kuroda, and myself. Time for the art reception! The art reception featured some great art from Eddie Kasper, Peter & Simon Tolzmann, myself and others. At the lunch break, some of the people from Ryerson showed us a Red-tailed Hawk and an Eastern Screech-Owl! We had watched the second round of young birder presentations by Simon Tolzmann and Eddie & Brett Kasper, they were great! Lastly, we watched the great Jen Brumfield speak on various birding topics, it was awesome! Overall a great day!

I will upload my presentation on WBC here soon. Unfortunately, I did not any good  photos.

August 12th WBC walk

Today we started at Waukegan Beach. As Al S. has already said (on IBET), the gate was closed, so we had to wait for someone to open it for us. We started off by admiring a large number of swallows flying all around us, we tried to pick out a Cave but with no luck. We walked down to the pier to see if any shorebirds were there. We found a couple Sanderlings but nothing else. Our primary target was the continuing Piping Plover, I started walking down the beach and spotted what appeared to be a piece of trash, I couldn't be more wrong, it was the Piping Plover! The bird gave us great looks of itself, and I got some good photos! We walked through the dunes finding practically nothing. Next, we headed to IBSP – south, just as we got to the beach we spotted two parakeets flying overhead, at first we assumed they were Monk, but as I looked at my photos closer they proved to be Blue-crowned! We walked down the beach until we ran into Al S. and another birder whose name I can't quite remember, they told us to walk to the end of the Dead River as there were some good shorebirds there. Thanks Al for giving us that suggestion as we probably would not have walked all the way there unless we knew there was something good. We found Least & Spotted Sandpipers, a Willet, two Short-billed Dowitchers, and lots of gulls & terns. On the walk back I heard a strange gull calling, it was a young Bonaparte's! Our last stop was at IBSP – north, we didn't find much there, but we were treated to a flyover Green Heron and a male Baltimore Oriole.

UPDATE:
A possible WEKI was photographed by the Tolzmann's at IBSP – north

July 8 WBC rarity search

After some confusion, because the marker for the meeting location went to the Quality Inn instead of the main parking lot, we started off the day at Goose Lake Prairie SP. We began walking finding lots of Yellow-breasted Chats and Sedge Wrens. When we got to the King Rail spot, we found both of the KIRAs immediately plus a very strange duck. The duck was like no other duck I had ever seen before. We spent a good 15 minutes looking through field guides, but we could not find the bird. Our next and last stop was McKinley Woods FP to try to find the continuing Cerulean Warbler. We had less luck at McKinley Woods FP, but we did find a calling Tufted Titmouse and an Acadian Flycatcher.

Midewin National Tall Grass Prairie WBC trip report

We started off at the Explosives Road Trail Where after an hour and a half of walking, we found some Northern Mockingbirds, lots of Grasshopper Sparrows, one Henslow’s Sparrow, and a ton of Dickcissels. Next, we headed to the Iron Bridge Trail. There we found a very nice male Orchard Oriole, a couple Loggerhead Shrikes, and a brilliant male Blue Grosbeak. Our last stop was the Hoff Road Trail where to be found were a couple singing Bell’s Vireo, a few Yellow-breasted Chats, and a calling Willow Flycatcher.

Targets for today(8):
Loggerhead Shrike
Bell’s Vireo
Northern Mockingbird
Grasshopper Sparrow
Henslow’s Sparrow
Dickcissel
Blue Grosbeak
Bobolink
Targets hit today: 8