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[+] Click Image for Larger Version
As nearly all respondents got the quiz bird to the correct family, we'll start with the valid assumption that the beastie is a gull. Various characters tell us that the bird is not an adult (oh, joy!), among these the black bill, black on the tail, distinct black on the head, black on the primary coverts, and a wingtip pattern that is not well-defined. The fairly distinct black on the head should move us into the small, hooded gulls. The bird's bill, while fairly small, is still too big for our bird to be attributable to Ross's, Little, or Bonaparte's gulls. The fact that the black on the head forms a fairly distinct half-hood rules out all of the ABA-area rarities such as Black-headed and Gray-hooded gulls (these species have much less black on the head at this bird's age), leaving us with just Laughing and Franklin's to consider. In fact, our bird's black legs would do the same job of eliminating contenders as most all of the above.
Separating Franklin's and Laughing gulls in first-cycle plumage can be greatly enhanced by a good view of the precise tail pattern, as the tail band on Laughing Gull extends to the outer webs of the outermost rectrices, whereas that of Franklin's Gull does not. However, our view is not particularly conducive to sorting that feature out, so we'll have to look elsewhere. In fact, we'll move to those even-longer extremities known as wings and pay particular attention to the wingtip pattern, on both the upper and under sides. Laughing Gull has an extensively black wingtip, with the entire upper and lower surfaces of the outer four (at minimum) primaries and lacks white tips to all but the innermost primaries.
I took this picture of a Franklin's Gull in formative plumage at Jumbo Reservoir, Logan Co., CO, on 11 August 2007. Other features supporting an ID of Franklin's Gull include the black half hood, the wide white trailing edge to the wing, and the obvious white tip to the tail.
The following people (listed by submission date beginning with the earliest) submitted correct answers for the January Bird Photo Quiz—Franklin's Gull:
The following list shows the number of submissions for each species guessed.
The photo and answer for this quiz were supplied by Tony Leukering.