Little Gull and Harris’s Sparrow – Centre County, PA

This morning, a few of my friends and I went back over to Howard to see the continuing Harris’s Sparrow. The bird was very cooperative and was present at the bird feeders as soon as we arrived. We were able to watch it for quite a while, when it would come in to the feeder and sit there eating nonstop for at least 4 or 5 minutes at a time. Afterwards, we checked a few spots around Bald Eagle SP for migrants. At Lower Greens Run, we scoped out the flock of Bonaparte’s Gulls loafing on a spit of land near a large group of cormorants. Out of nowhere, the gulls took flight. That is when I noticed the tell-tale dark underwings of an adult Little Gull! The dark underwings stood out among the white underwings of the surrounding Bonaparte’s Gulls, and I scrambled to get a few photos of the bird as it flew over our heads. The lighting was terrible, but I did manage a few shots. This is only the second record of a Little Gull in Centre County, and the first record of an adult bird. This past Saturday we found the 1st county record of this species (an immature bird) which shows that we should be keeping a close eye on flocks of Bonaparte’s each spring, because Little Gulls are probably more common than we previously thought here in Centre County. On another note, we were also able to find the Sandhill Crane again over at Curtin Wetlands.

Little Gull - adult; Note the dark underwings, small head, short bill and overall small size (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

Harris's Sparrow - basic plumage adult in Howard, PA (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)