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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Franklin's Gull at Muskegon Wastewater

Dave Slager called this morning to report a young Franklin's Gull (he suspected it was a first summer/2nd calendar year bird) out in the middle of the east lagoon. I made a quick run for the bird and was eventually treated with some very distant views as it floated with Bonaparte's Gulls and Ring-billed Gulls. I now think the bird is likely a juvenile, based on the suggestion of brownish tones to the mantle and scapular area, a lack of large white primary tips and the lack of any white between the dark primaries and gray/brown wing coverts, and the apparent lack of any molting flight feathers (inc. tail). I am still looking into the possibility of a delayed 1st summer (second calendar year) which had a very incomplete 1st prealternate molt (which occurs Dec-May, and can include none to all of the primaries) and is still yet to begin its 2nd prebasic primary molt, though this option seems like more of a stretch. The obviously darkish centers to the bird's tertials also seem to suggest a young of the year more than a 1st summer.
As far as viewing the bird is concerned, a good place to start is from the north dike of the east lagoon- looking south to east into the middle of the lagoon. Additional views were had from the west end of the dump on the south dike of the east lagoon: