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Serving greater Daytona Beach area
Founded 1923



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November 2015:  Wintering gulls are beginning to return to Daytona Beach Shores and other coastal communities to the north and south.  By next month, gulls by the thousands will gather on the beach each evening before flying out into the ocean to spend the night.  This gives birders an opportunity to walk among the large flocks to learn how to age the gulls as well as to spot the different species.  The vast majority of gulls will be Laughing Gulls and Ring-billed Gulls.  Herring Gulls, Great Black-backed Gulls and Lesser Black-backed Gulls will make up the rest of the majority.

The Laughing Gull look-alike -- Franklin's Gull -- has become a regular visiting species to the Daytona Beach area for the past years.  As of November 11, Michael Brothers has identified 45 different Franklin's Gulls of varying ages.  The Franklin's Gull pictured above is a 2nd cycle bird. It looks almost like an adult, but there is less white in the primaries and there are some thin dark marks in the outer primary coverts that would not be in an adult. In the photo of the spread wing, the pale gray tail that contrasts with the white upper tail coverts can be seen.

The Franklin's Gull is marginally smaller than the Laughing Gull, about 2 inches shorter from tip of the bill to tip of the tail and about one ounce lighter.  Franklin's Gulls have slightly shorter legs and a shorter and less drooped bill.  The wings are shorter, too, averaging a span of 36 inches vs. 40 inches for the Laughing Gull.  Wings on the Franklin's Gull are less pointy.  The underwings are always clean white with limited black tips on the primaries.  These subtle differences may be difficult to discern.  More obvious is the more extensive dark hood on the nonbreeding Franklin's adult in comparison to the smudgy gray streaking on the nonbreeding adult Laughing Gull.  The broad white eye arcs on the Franklin's Gull are a distinct field mark.  The arrow points to the Franklin's Gull in the photo.  Note the darker cap compared to streaking on the remainder of the birds which are Laughing Gulls of various ages.  The broad eye arcs stand out, too.

Our thanks to Michael Brothers for sharing his photos and his knowledge about identifying Franklin's Gulls.  Don't miss the daily opportunity to see the largest collection of gulls in the east coast.  Gulls begin returning to the beach about two hours before dark.  Park at Vann Avenue or Frank Rendon Park on A1A in Daytona Beach Shores and walk north and south to view the flocks.  But don't dismiss other areas of the beach.  Franklin's Gull have been spotted on beaches in Ormond-by-the-Sea and Ormond Beach proper.  Continue to search for the bird that looks different from all the others.  Glaucous, Iceland and Thayer's Gulls are often found in Volusia County during the winter, although generally only in single numbers per species.

Share the beach w/nesting birds; tips from Nat'l Aud. How to remove fishing line from a hooked bird
For deeply embedded or swallowed hooks, or injuries to wings and legs call:
Marine Science Center(386) 304-5530, After Hours 386-561-0624

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