Documentation of Franklin's Gull

Observer Information

Reporter:  Richard Trotter  P.O. Box 72,   Saguache, CO  81149
Other Observers: 

Species, Date, Time and Location Information

Species:  Franklin's Gull
First Date/Time:  4/16/2018 4:00:00 PM
Last Date/Time:  4/16/2018 4:05:00 PM
Duration (total time in view):  5 minutes
County:  Saguache
Specific Location:  Saguache
Number:  70
Age:  Unknown
Sex:  Multiple Birds - Mixed
Plumage:  Multiple Birds - Mixed


unknown, circling over a crop circle northwest of Saguache

Viewing Conditions

Optics:  Mark II Eyeball and small digital camera
Distance:  25 yards
Light:  Cloudy and Overcast

Description of the Bird

I was out in our Forest Service Yard just west of Saguache and noticed a flock of circling birds very low to the ground about 20 to 25 yards away and maybe 30 to 50 feet in the air.  They were gulls of some sort.  Some had black heads and black wing tips, while a few only had white heads and black tipped wings.  Wingspan was much longer their body length.  They made few calls but the ones they did were a different kind of gull call than I've heard before.  I was able to snap a couple of photos, but not great ones.  Some features can be seen in one of the photos which I've marked with a red circle.  The birds finally caught some wind and flew briefley to the northeast and then climbed up and headed back low level to the northwest towards Saguache Peak.

Similar Species Discussion

I'm honestly not sure what type of gulls these were other than a Fish and Wildlife employee mentioned they might be Franklin's gulls which aren't that uncommon in our area and the San Luis Valley.  It was interesting there were several smaller black headed gulls with one or two larger white gulls.  I looked it up on the internet where I found this site.  They could be Bonapartes Gulls or the Franklin Gulls. 

Resources Used

I did a Google Search and consulted with a U.S. Fish and Wildlife employee on our Ranger District.

Update:  I checked out a birds of Colorado website on Google and after reviewing the photos believe these were mostly Franklins gulls given the short head, body, and narrow tail from the photos on the website.  The larger white gull circled in the photos could be a Herring or Ring-Billed Gull.

Previous Experience

I've seen gulls in Colorado before, but not this many at one time circling in this manner and not this many in the San Luis Valley.  I've been to different coastlines both domestic and foreign and have seen gulls many times so I know the basics, but am a pure beginner and don't know the genus and species.


Review of photos

Materials Available

Photographer: Richard Trotter

Photos |


Date Documentation Submitted

4/17/2018 10:00:00 AM
Click left or right edges of photos to move through all; click outside image to close

Location Map

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