Monday, March 5, 2012

Black-headed Gull is Growing Up

I'm sure you remember the Black-headed Gull who put us in the spotlight for a good while. Well, he's still around at the Frank W. Spencer Boat Ramp Park in Savannah, and he's growing up before our eyes! When we first found him 3 weeks ago, he was just earspots. And now, his black head, his namesake, is filling in as he goes into his breeding plumage. 

Black-headed Gull calling out (02/17/12). A great look at the underwing and tips of the top of the wing. 

Black-headed Gull Flying (02/17/12). You can kinda see those red legs. 

Black-headed Gull top view (02/17/12)

Black-headed Gull in the water (02/17/12). Its stature is a lot like a Bonaparte's Gull.

You'll first see some shots of him I took about 2 weeks ago when he still had just the ear spots. He came quite close and allowed for some great shots. In the latter photos, you'll see how quickly he has started to turn into a handsome little gull ready for the spring. 

Black-headed Gull with his friends, the Hooded Mergansers (02/17/12)

Black-headed Gull keeping low (02/17/12)

A nice look at the light nape and mantle of the Black-headed Gull (02/17/12)

The gang is all here! Black-headed gull with Hooded Mergansers, Snowy Egrets, a Ring-billed Gull, and a Forster's Tern. (02/17/12)

It's amazing now to think how lucky Nick and I were to have found and identified this gull. Had we seen him now, who knows if we would have been able to point him out. He looks an awful lot like the Laughing Gulls - both sharing the black heads and red bills and red legs. Although there is the slight size difference and of course the coloration difference (especially in the mantle and wings), at first glance, the Black-headed Gull could be easily mistaken as a Laughing Gull.

Black-headed Gull on the left compared to a Laughing Gull on the right.  (03/04/12)
Criss cross! Now the Laughing Gull on the upper left and the Black-headed Gull on the lower right. A nice look to compare the wings and mantle of the gulls. (03/04/12)

We were so glad to see that our little friend was still around as of yesterday. He was really the catalyst that put our names out there and introduced us to so many friendly Georgia birders who came from near and far to get a look at him. 

Black-headed Gull with his black head filling in (03/04/12)

Black-headed Gull in flight (03/04/12)

He didn't get as close as he did the previous time I saw him 2 weeks ago, but we were happy to still see him around. And of course, our Black-headed Gull friend stuck mostly with his Hooded Merganser buddies. He would stray every once in a while to go hang out with the other gulls. Perhaps he thought, "Hey, you kinda look like me!" about the Laughing Gulls. But he wouldn't be with them too long before he would fly over back to his adoptive family. I'm not sure how long he'll stick around, but it's nice to see that he is still here for now.

Black-headed Gull landing near a Ring-billed Gull (03/04/12)
Black-headed Gull in the distance with his Hooded Merganser family (03/04/12)


  1. Charming! Looks like he's getting ready to get frisky. As his discoverers, I think it is up to you, Hipster Birders, to sit him down and have a talk about the birds, the bees, and finding the right female Gull with a good family and the right values.

    He may wish they all could be California Gulls, but he shouldn't be chasing any red Herrings and getting Laughed (ing Gull) at. He needs to find a nice gull and put a Ring on her Bill; it'd be disappointing if he leaves a bunch of broken hearted ladies in his Kittiwake...

    1. I think you've outdone yourself with the bird puns this time, Laurence! =)

    2. Don't worry, he's not particular... he'll settle for a mate, whether she's Noddy or nice. Just as long as he gets his Tern with a willing partner this season, he'll love her for what's on the inside, whether she Common or Elegant.

    3. Hmm. I guess if she's Ruddy and willing he Wood peck er'.

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  3. What a spectacular find! I'm glad you are able to follow him into adulthood:)