There is no better month to find a Little Gull in much of North America than November. This fall has produced one of the stronger showings for this species in recent years with birds appearing from the Front Range of Colorado to southern Illinois and Tennessee. Coastal sightings stretch from Newfoundland to Virginia. Lake Erie and Lake Ontario have also had strong showings for the species this year, including at the species’ North American stronghold along the Niagara River, where dozens of Little Gulls can sometimes be found among the tens of thousands of Bonaparte’s. Three at Chequamegon Bay, Lake Superior, Wisconsin on 25 November were a great count so far west. As we head into a long Thanksgiving weekend, try checking open water near you for Little Gull. Bring your camera!
Do keep in mind that in much of the Lower 48 away from the coast, late November is also the peak period for Black-legged Kittiwake. It’s not a bad time to dream about a Ross’s Gull either. Immatures of all three species can be somewhat similar and are occasionally confused; the bird in the photo here is a first-winter Little Gull. Note the lack of a hind collar (shown by Black-legged Kittiwake) and the square-tipped tail, not wedge-shaped like Ross’s.
On the maps below, compare the number of records away from the Great Lakes between 2013 and 2012. Note how many have recurred at the same locations in multiple years. Click on the maps to open the live eBird maps for that time period.