California Gull (Larus californicus)

Number of accepted California Gull records for Louisiana > 40 as of June 2015

Accepted Records

The following (six) records are all from "Rutherford Beach," 2-10 miles west of the old mouth of the Mermentau River, Cameron Parish. Details of the plumage, size, and soft-part colors of these seven records suggest that at least six individual California Gulls were represented by these sightings. Only two winter adults were believed to have been present during November and December, so there is evidently some overlap in the three reports from this period; the descriptions suggest that records 85-34 and 86-32 refer to the same individual:

--One first winter immature (1985-52; formerly 86-27) found on 29 September 1985 and collected the following day (LSUMZ 126708) (Donna L. Dittmann, Steven W. Cardiff*).

--One second-winter immature (1985-54; formerly 86-29) collected (LSUMZ 126709) on 12 October 1985 (Donna L. Dittmann, Steven W. Cardiff*).

--One second-winter immature (1985-55; formerly 86-30) from 13 to 25 October 1985 (Donna L. Dittmann, Steven W. Cardiff*; Van Remsen, B. Mac Myers III, Dan Purrington, Norton Nelkin, David P. Muth).

--One winter adult (1985-34) on 25 November 1985 (Joseph Kleiman; David Hunter).

--One winter adult (1985-56; formerly 86-31) from 27 November to 8 December 1985 (Donna L. Dittmann*, Steven W. Cardiff).

--One winter adult (1985-37; formerly 86-32) on 8 December 1985 (Donna L. Dittmann, Steven W. Cardiff*). This is an amazing set of records for a species not previously recorded in Louisiana.

One in second basic plumage (1986-15; formerly 87-15) on 27 Sep. 1986, Cameron: 5-7 mi. W OMMR; Donna L. Dittmann & Steven W. Cardiff, Carlos E. Quintela.

One adult female in basic plumage (1986-19; formerly 87-6) on 28-29 Sep. 1986, Cameron: 5 mi. W OMMR; Steven W. Cardiff (LSUMZ #131090) & Donna L. Dittmann, Carlos E. Quintela. Purrington (1987, p. 101) reversed the ages of this and the preceding individual.

One in second basic plumage (1988-50; formerly 89-41) on 21 Jun. 1988, Cameron: East Jetty Beach; Donna L. Dittmann & Steven W. Cardiff (LSUMZ #135922). Erroneously reported as 21 Jul. in AB 42(2): 1302.

One adult female in fresh basic plumage (1988-80; formerly 89-101) on 16 Oct. 1988, Cameron: 7 mi. W old mouth Mermentau River; Steven W. Cardiff (LSUMZ #138117) & Donna L. Dittmann, David P. Muth (AB 43( 1):118).

One adult female in basic plumage (1988-64; formerly 89-63) on 23 Oct. 1988, Cameron: 8 mi. W OMMR; Steven W. Cardiff (LSUMZ #138117), Donna L. Dittmann.

One adult female in basic plumage (1988-65; formerly 89-65) on 23 Oct. 1988, Cameron: 3 mi. W OMMR; Steven W. Cardiff (LSUMZ #138119) & Donna L. Dittmann. This and the preceding record were reported in Purrington (1989, p. 118).

One in third alternate plumage (1989-44) on 18 Feb. 1989, St. Bernard: Arabi, Crescent Acres Landfill; Steven W. Cardiff, Curtis A. Marantz, David P. Muth. Muth (1989, p. 326) incorrectly reported the date as 19 Feb.

One in adult basic plumage molting to alternate plumage (1989-79) on 28 Feb. 1989, Cameron: 5 mi. W Holly Beach (an individual seen later that day at East Jetty was probably the same bird); Steven W. Cardiff & Donna L. Dittmann (AB 43(2)326).

One in first alternate molting to second basic plumage (1989-01; formerly 90-1). 28 Oct 1989, Cameron: 4 mi. 1,V old mouth Mermentau River; Donna L. Dittmann, Steven W. Cardiff (ph), Andy Kratter (AB 44(1): 106).

Sketch by Donna L. Dittmann

One male in definitive basic plumage (1989-167) on 28 Oct. 1989, Cameron: 3 mi. W of old mouth Mermentau River (Rutherford Beach); Steven W. Cardiff (LSUMZ 152027; ph) and Donna L. Dittmann (*)(AB44(l):106).

One female molting to 3rd basic plumage (1991-41) on 1 Sep 1991, Vermilion: 4 mi. NNW of Kaplan; Steven W. Cardiff (LSUMZ 154360) and Donna L. Dittmann (*); AB46(1):105.

One juvenal plumaged female molting to 1st basic plumage (1991-49) on 19 Sep 1991, Cameron: 3 mi. W of old mouth Mermentau River (Rutherford Beach); Kenneth V. Rosenberg (ph) and T. Scott Sillett (LSUMZ 154269; Donna L. Dittmann*); AB46(1):105.

One female in 2nd basic plumage (1992-29) on 26 Dec 1992, St. Bernard: 2 mi. NNE of Arabi; Steven W. Cardiff (LSUMZ 154457) and Donna L. Dittmann (*); AB47(2):267.

One female in second alternate plumage (1994-65) on 14 May 1994, Cameron: 5 mi. W of old mouth Mermentau River (Rutherford Beach); Steven W. Cardiff (LSUMZ 160625) and Donna L. Dittmann (*) (FN48 (3):309; LOS159). This represents the first spring record (between late February and late June).

One adult (1994-58) in basic plumage on 24 Sep 1994, Cameron: Rutherford Beach, about 5 mi. W of old mouth Mermentau River; Donna L. Dittmann and Steven W. Cardiff (ph); NASFN 49(1): 58, LOS News 162: 4.

One male in definitive basic plumage (1995-128) on 27 Oct. 1995, Cameron: 8 mi. W of old mouth Mermentau River (Rutherford Beach); Steven W. Cardiff (LSUMZ 162190) and Donna L. Dittmann (*) (FN50 (1):67; LOS169).

One male in fourth basic plumage (1996-48) from 30 Nov.-4 Dec. 1996, Cameron: 5 mi. W of old mouth Mermentau River (Rutherford Beach); Phillip A. Wallace (ph), B. Mac Myers III (ph), Steven W. Cardiff (LSUMZ 162250), and Donna L. Dittmann (*)(FN51(1):70; LOSl77).

One adult (1998-117) in basic plumage on 21 Dec 1998, Cameron: Rutherford Beach, 8 mi. W of old mouth Mermentau River; Donna L. Dittmann and Steven W. Cardiff.

One adult (1998-127) in basic plumage on 21 Dec 1998, Cameron: Rutherford Beach, 5 mi. W of old mouth Mermentau River; Donna L. Dittmann and Steven W. Cardiff. This and the preceding record are in NAB 53(2): 174.

One adult female (2000-78) in basic plumage on 20 & 27 Oct 2000, Cameron: Rutherford Beach, 3.5 mi. W of old mouth Mermentau River; Steven W. Cardiff (LSUMZ 171759; DLD) and Donna L. Dittmann. Presumably, the bird observed on 20 Oct is the same as the one collected a week later, although they were treated as two separate individuals in NAB 55(1): 64.

One in 2nd basic plumage (2002-01) on 27 Apr 2002, Cameron: 5 mi. W of old mouth Mermentau River (Rutherford Beach); Donna L. Dittmann and Steven W. Cardiff, David P. Muth (ph only), and B. Mac Myers III (ph only); NAB56(3):316. Based on experience with this species, Dittmann and Cardiff indicated that this individual was probably a male of the nominate subspecies.

One molting from juvenal to 1st basic plumage (2003-13) on 25 Oct 2003, Cameron: approximately ¼ mi. E of Holly Beach; Paul E. Conover (ph); NAB58(1):91.

Photo by Paul Conover

One or two in definitive basic plumage (2003-33) on 25 Oct 2003, Cameron: Holly Beach; Phillip A. Wallace (ph), David P. Muth (ph), B. Mac Myers III, and Robert D. Purrington (ph); NAB58(1):91.

Photo by Dan Purrington

One in definitive basic plumage (2003-37) on 26 Oct 2003, Cameron: approximately 7 mi. W of old mouth Mermentau River (Rutherford Beach); Phillip A. Wallace (ph), David P. Muth, and B. Mac Myers III; NAB58(1):91.

One in definitive basic plumage (2004-66) on 30 Oct 2004, Cameron: 10 mi. W of old mouth Mermentau River (Rutherford Beach); Donna L. Dittmann (ph) and Steven W. Cardiff; NAB59(1):92.

One immature (2005-036) on 31 December 2005-1 January 2006, Vermilion: intersection Hwys. 167 and 696, S Maurice; Paul E. Conover (ph).

Photo by Paul Conover

One adult male (2007-82) on 3 November 2007, Cameron: 5 mi. W old mouth Mermentau River; Steven W. Cardiff (DLD 9056) and Donna L. Dittmann (ph, *).

One in definitive basic plumage (2008-52) on 1 November 2008, Cameron: Broussard Beach; Devin Bosler (ph).

Photo by Devin Bosler

One immature (juvenal molting to first basic) female (2009-59) on 20 September-3 October 2009, Cameron: approximately ½-1 mi. E of Holly Beach; Paul E. Conover (LSUMZ/DLD 9835, ph).

Photo by Paul Conover

One definitive adult completing primary molt (2009-99) on 27 September 2009, Cameron: 4 mi. W of old mouth Mermentau River, 29.7728oN, 93.1925oW; Steven W. Cardiff (LSUMZ/DLD 9718) and Donna L. Dittmann (ph: p. 11).

One adult female (2011-097) on 9 October 2011, Cameron: Rutherford Beach; Donna L. Dittmann (ph on p. 10, DLD 10343)) and Steven W. Cardiff (LSUMZ). Identified as “expected” subspecies L. c. albertaensis.

One adult (2011-050) on 22 October 2011, Cameron: Rutherford Beach; Paul E. Conover (ph).

Photo by Paul Conover

One in third basic plumage (2013-004) from 19 January-28 April 2013, Cameron: Cameron, at or just offshore of mouth Calcasieu River; Paul E. Conover (ph), Dave Patton (Patton report 1, Patton report 2, Patton report 3), (ph), Erik I. Johnson (ph only).

Photo by Paul Conover

One second-year (2013-084) on 11 October 2013, Cameron: 1 mi. W Holly Beach; David P. Muth (ph).

Photo by David P. Muth

One third -ear/adult (2014-018) on 6 March 2014, East Baton Rouge: Zachary, East Baton Rouge Parish Landfill on W. Irene Rd.; Daniel F. Lane (ph) and Matt Brady.

Photo by Daniel F. Lane

Unaccepted Records

One (1978-05; formerly 81-33) at LaBranch Marsh, St. Charles Parish on 12 March 1978.

One adult (1985-32) on "Rutherford Beach," west of the old mouth of the Mermentau River, Cameron Parish, on 19 October 1985.

One in first basic plumage (1986-69) on 25 Oct.1986, Cameron: Cameron, East Jetty, 2 mi. S Cameron. The description is inadequate to separate this bird from similar species of gulls.

One (1986-34), possibly in third basic plumage, on 20 Dec 1986, Cameron: 1/2 mi. W of [town of] Holly Beach [Sabine NWR CBC]; AB 41(2): 292. This record was accepted on the first circulation by a 6-1 vote. Shortly after the record was initially accepted, the LBRC adopted a policy to automatically re-circulate any record that did not receive a unanimous vote on the first circulation. The Secretary opted to re-circulate the record so Members could review first circulation comments (and review the single dissenting Member's comments). The record received a non-accept vote (3-4) after the second circulation, but was again re-circulated on “secretarial prerogative” so that Members could review second circulation comments, including those of the Member who initially submitted the record. On the third circulation, the record received a 2-5 vote and was not accepted. The primary reason that this record was not accepted was because the bird’s age could not be established from the description, which caused concern about the reliability of field characters used for the identification. These included color of legs and eyes. At the time of the observation, all acceptable California Gull records fell between late Sep and early Dec. The description also could not adequately rule out other species or hybrids.

Three (1987-10; formerly 89-111) on 17 Dec. 1987, Cameron: S of Little Chenier Road (AB 42(2):276). The observer provided insufficient details of the bird’s plumage and soft part colors (especially leg color) to eliminate other species, particularly Herring Gull (L. argentatus). All Members commented that the probability of three birds occurring together in a relatively small resting group of other gulls (24 Ring-billed Gulls, L. delawarensis) was low.

One adult (1996-15) on 18 Feb 1996, Cameron: marsh along Rutherford Beach Road, 1/2 mi. from beach. The bird was sitting on the water, and so the identification was largely based on bill coloration (combination of a reddish-orange and black patch on the otherwise yellow bill). Members pointed out that third year, and some fourth year, Herring Gulls acquire a red gonydeal patch, but can also retain an adjacent black smudge on the bill. Also, the mantle was reported as similar to Herring Gull and the illustration of the head showed a pale iris. Both these characters are more consistent with identification as Herring Gull.

One in 3rd basic plumage (2000-43) on 11 Nov 2000, Caddo: Shreveport, Cross Lake. All but one member were reluctant to accept a sight record of a subadult individual observed under suboptimal circumstances. Of particular concern to the Committee was that leg color was not discernable, substantially weakening the case for a diagnostic identification.

One in basic plumage third-year/adult (2000-063) on 23 December 2000, Orleans: New Orleans, Seabrook Bridge Boat Launch on Lake Pontchartrain. After three circulations, a majority of Members believed that inconclusive ageing of the bird, lack of views in flight, and inconsistencies about the bill pattern made it difficult to be confident about the identification. The “relatively” advanced age combined with leg color, dark eye, “correct” bill pattern (one observer, but not the other), smallish bill, and relatively dark mantle were suggestive of California Gull, but there were also concerns about the bird’s size (described as “small HEGU” = better for larger, paler-mantled albertaensis) and that the legs were described as gray-green and the mantle described as pretty dark (= better for smaller nominate californicus).

One in Juvenal plumage (2004-046) on 30 October 2004, Cameron: Broussard Beach. Photos did not support identification as this species.

One in 1st basic plumage (2004-50) on 21 Dec 2004, Vermilion: approximately 2 mi. S of Maurice on Hwy. 167. The photographs and description were not adequate to confirm the identification of this species in this plumage.

One adult in non-breeding plumage (2006-003) on 18 February 2006, Orleans: New Orleans, Lake Ponchartrain shoreline on Hayne Blvd., ca 3 mi. E New Orleans Lakefront airport. Description was not adequate to support identification.

One adult (2008-053) on 20 February 2008, Vermilion: 5.3 km N Abbeville on Hwy. 167. All but two Members ultimately decided that the description (leg color not seen) and accompanying photographs did not support the identification as an adult California Gull and convincingly eliminate a third-winter Herring Gull.

One sub-adult (2009-64) on 1 October 2009, Cameron: E end of Rutherford Beach near camps. Because the description was rather sketchy and the photograph submitted was more suggestive of a Lesser Black-backed Gull, the majority of Members were not convinced that this individual was correctly identified.

One 3rd basic or definitive basic (2010-003) on 23 January 2010, Vermilion: Lurby Rd., 3.3 mi. NNE of Abbeville. Most Members believed that photographs submitted did not eliminate a Herring Gull.