Who was the most unusual visitor to Sanibel Island this year? It might just have been this Iceland gull!
The Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation said staff members and volunteers participated in the 13th Annual Florida Winter Shorebird Survey last month, where they counted 2,443 individual birds representing 25 different species.
One of the most interesting, and unexpected, observations happened when researchers noticed an all-white gull on the East End of the island.
The researchers snapped a few photos of the bird before moving on to help an injured pelican nearby, but a later review of the pictures determined the white bird was an Iceland gull (Larus glaucoides), an extremely rare visitor to Florida.
According to SCCF Shorebird Biologist Audrey Albrecht, iceland gulls nest in Arctic Canada and are typically not seen this far south in the winter.
Can’t blame them for wanting to visit Sanibel, though!