First Grey Gull for USA discovered in Florida


The first confirmed Grey Gull for the United States has been discovered in western Florida.

The bird was found at Santa Rosa Beach in Walton County on 3 September by local birder Adam Pickos, who posted the sighting on eBird looking for feedback on its identification. Adam's suspicions proved correct and the gull was still present later that day and in those following, often giving superb views among the local Laughing Gulls.

It later transpired that presumably the same bird had been photographed at nearby Camp Helen State Park in June, while discussions with non-birding locals suggested the gull had been visiting Santa Rosa Beach for several weeks.

North America's first confirmed Grey Gull (left) with two juvenile Laughing Gulls (Amar Ayyash).

Grey Gull is native to the Pacific coast of South America, where it can be very common along the coasts of Peru and Chile. However, it is rarely seen further north than Ecuador. Until the 1970s its breeding grounds remained a mystery, but it has since been found to breed inland in the deserts of northern Chile.

Vagrant Grey Gulls have been recorded in Brazil, Argentina and twice in Mexico. There is a previous claim from Louisiana, USA, in December 1987, but the Louisiana Bird Records Committee felt that a melanistic Laughing Gull could not be ruled out from the single image taken and as such the record was not accepted.