When is a Seagull Not?

For most of my life I’ve referred to gulls as “seagulls.” After my recent trip to Colorado and New Mexico, I now know why birders insist on referring to them simply as gulls. There seemed to be as many there as there is here in Tacoma.

I loved watching the Ring-Billed Gulls soar in the brilliant skies above Lake Cabello.

Ring-Billed Gull

The main attraction on the lake, though, were the Western Grebes. Although they shied away when I first walked down to the lake, it didn’t take long before they surrounded me. It was the closest I’ve ever gotten to Western Grebes, even closer than I got at Malheur this year. At close range, the bill looked quite formidable,

Western Grebe

and I could actually begin to distinguish one grebe from each other.

Western Grebe

The online guide that I used to find Cabello State Park said it had the highest Christmas Bird Count of any area in the state. I believe it. Though the sheer number of birds didn’t come close to what I saw at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge later in the week, I saw more birds here than I saw anywhere else in New Mexico or Arizona.

The lake also drew songbirds, like this Western Bluebird,

Western Bluebird

this Say’s Phoebe,

 Say's Phoebe

and this White-Crowned Sparrow.

White-Crowned Sparrow.

It took me a little research to discover that this

immature White-Crowned Sparrow

is also a White-Crowned Sparrow, but it’s an immature White-Crowned Sparrow, something I’ve never noticed before.

None of these were “first’s” for me, but most were birds I rarely see so it was a treat seeing them.