American Herring Gull (smithsonianus)

(last update: October 30, 2015)

Amar Ayyash (US)
Bruce Mactavish (Canada)
Dave Brown (Canada)
Mars Muusse (Netherlands)

American Herring Gull (smithsonianus) R03 4CY, June 22 2015, Newcastle Commons, NH. Picture: Robbie Prieto.

See website: The Gulls Of Appledore.

American Herring Gull banded green alphanumeric R03. An 'Appledore Gull' banded on Appledore Island, Maine, banded as pullus on June 16 2012. R03 was a ‘C’ chick, meaning R03 was the last of the three eggs in the nest to hatch. R03’s parents were M36 and M35. M36 is currently nesting again on Appledore.  R04 is a sibling but there are no reports for R04 since banding.

The first time R03 was seen off Appledore Island was on Dec 5, 2013 at Hedgehog Pond by Kyle W. The next 20 sightings of R03 were in East Kingston by Davis F. between January 15, 2015 and April 2, 2015.

R03 has brown in the wing and black in the tail unlike full adult Herring Gulls.  The plumage indicates that R03 is a third year old gull. Gulls reach full adult plumage at four years. Therefore, looking at the records, it is not surprising to find that R03 was banded as a chick at nest 12H308 on Appledore Island on July 16, 2012, three years ago.  At that time R03 was able to ‘run like blazes’ but the wing feathers were not developed enough to fly so the college students who help with banding were able to catch R03 and Dr. David Bonter of Cornell Lab of Ornithology banded R03.

Not many ‘C’ chicks survive to leave the nest and the first year for young gulls is very difficult. Only about 20 percent of the chicks survive the first year. This means that R03 had good parents who provided adequate food and is an exceptional individual, having found food through the first winter and survived to age three.  It is likely R03 will now survive to nest next year and raise a family.  Perhaps we will find R03 on Appledore nesting next year.