Project History

me and Bill

Dr. Ellis and long-time volunteer for the gull project, Bill Clark.

Dr. Julie Ellis began banding Herring Gulls and Great Black-Backed Gulls on Appledore Island, Maine as part of her PhD research. Since the inception of the gull banding project in 2004, several collaborators and numerous students have contributed to the banding efforts, and have carried out their own independent research projects involving the gulls.

Bill Clark has been volunteering with the project since nearly its very start, and now handles all reports to volunteers reporting bands. Bill gives detailed life histories to everyone who sends in a band. It’s a remarkable amount of (unpaid and largely unsung) labor and without Bill’s diligence, we know we would not have the cadre of dedicated volunteer band re-sighters we do.

Coordination of the project has since been turned over to Sarah Courchesne and Mary Everett. Sarah is trained as a veterinarian and is an Associate Professor of Natural Sciences at Northern Essex Community College in Massachusetts. She began volunteering for the project in 2008. Mary is currently a student at UMass-Lowell and has substantial expertise is GIS and mapping. She was a summer intern on the gull project in the internship’s inaugural year of 2016 and has been involved in the project since 2015.

Sarah Courchesne in full field attire.

Mary Everett at work mapping nests.

Appledore gulls have been re-sighted by members of the public as far south as Florida and as far west as Texas. This research relies on people like you–birders, beachgoers, casual observers, to report banded birds!

118 thoughts on “Project History

  1. Pingback: Gull banding in Maine; wanna join? « SEANET Blog

  2. I took a picture of two gulls fighting over a crab, when i looked a the picture after i noticed a band around its leg , it is C17 it was on Hampton beach 8-17-11 is this of any importance.

  3. I took a picture of a gull today at Hampton beach the gull had a green band with white letters L56 on it ,, is this of any importance thanks

  4. I have no idea if this is related to your project but on 5/30/2012 I saw what I believe was a juvenile herring gull with a green leg band, # K82.

    • Hi Karen! Thanks for this report – the bird was banded last summer as a chick on Appledore Island, so this is its first resight off the island! Thanks very much for this information. Please feel free to send more resights our way. Take care! julie

      • Hi Jellis
        Spotted this full with a green band reading A64 on Risden’s beach Nj. September 5, 2015.
        Is he part of the study? Do you have info on him if so? I have a pic, working on uploading it !

  5. I photographed a young herring gull today at Cape May Point State Park in New Jersey today (7/2/2012) with a green K58 band as well as a USGS band that I could not read. I’m curious about where this bird came from.

    • Hey Tiffany! This bird was banded as a chick on Appledore in July, 2011. This is the first time it has been resighted – so interesting to know it is in Cape May! Thanks very much for your report. Feel free to send more my way. Best wishes, julie

  6. Hi! I protect beach nesting birds in NJ and today at one of my sites, I saw a Black Back Gull with a black band, white letters – 2C2. He had a back left foot, it was totally curled under, but he walked on it kind of like it was a stump. I would love to know the history of this bird. He was seen this afternoon in Sea Bright, NJ, which is near Sandy Hook.
    Thanks! Pam

  7. Hello. Today I photographed a gull at Hampton Beach, NH that won the race against 4 other gulls to snag a piece of dropped sandwich. It had a green band marked L30. Is this one fo the birds from your study?

  8. Hi Good afternoon, I have been been feeding a seagull for several years and he is tagged with a black tag with yellow writing, similar to HO2, although I am still trying to get a good look to confirm. I write asking if this could be one of your birds. I live in Bristol, England, Great Britain.

  9. Hi – I photographed a Great Black-backed gull with black band IN4 (possibly 1N4). The bird was at Sandy Point State Reservation, Plum Island MA on Saturday, August 25.

    Here is a link to the photo:

  10. Greetings! I saw what I believe to be a herring gull at the 100-acre cover in Barrington RI 8/29/2012. He/she had a green band on the left leg “M67” and a gray band on her right leg. Could this bird be part of this study? I have several great photos. Could this bird be part of your study?

  11. Hi, I saw a herring gull with a green band marked T47 in Rye, New Hampshire, in a pull off at the side of Rte 1A just south of Odiorne State Park on Thursday Sept. 6. Hope this is one of your birds and is of interest.

  12. Saw a seagull tagged with 2e2 on Plum Island today. Lot 7. Did a little Internet searching and it looks like he’s been there several years.

  13. Hi,

    I think I sighted another of your juv herring gulls today, 9/14/12, on Little Beach Island, E.B. Forsythe NWR, New Jersey. R01 dark green band on left leg with silver BBL band, partial sequence of 767202 on the right leg. He/she was enjoying a blue crab. I have photos if you’d like them.


  14. Hello,
    On December 5th, 2012, I found a Great Black Backed Gull with a black band 7E3 on the left leg and a silver band on the right. I photographed the bird on the beach in Pt. Pleasant, NJ on the south side of the Manasquan Inlet.

  15. Not sure if it’s one of yours. On 12/16/12 we took a photo of a Gull…sorry don’t know what kind, on Fort Myers Beach in Florida. It had two bands. One was green with X25 and the other was a silver metal one, the word Call and a couple numbers could only be identified. I’d love to send you a picture if you let me know how. Is it one of yours? If so, can you tell me about it? Thanks much!

  16. Today, 12/22/2012, we observed a juvenile greater black backed gull at a large dump in Lewiston, Maine. It had a silver band (s?) on its leg but when we got out the spotting scope to try and read it, it flew off. Does this interest anyone for futher details?

  17. Hi, I’m a commercial fisherman out of New Bedford, MA. On January 28th I spotted a seagull tagged 4V9 at George’s Banks coordinates 40 53.08N, 66 52.66W

    • Thanks for your resight! 4V9 is a Great Black-backed gull that was banded as a chick on Appledore, Maine on July 17, 2012. He or she was seen again 5 days later on Appledore but hasn’t been seen since. Great to know 4V9 is still alive and well!

  18. Wow, pretty cool. Ive seen some other banded seagulls before but never knew where to report them. I see any others, I’ll let you know and try to get pictures.

  19. Pingback: Thanks to donors, students are island bound! « SEANET Blog

  20. Greetings, I am here on Fort Myers Beach in Florida and spotted a gull with a bright red band on his leg on the beach (with other, non-banded gulls). I wonder if this if an Appledore Island gull…and if so, what a coincidence as my family is very connected with Star Island. From, Jean Fuller Gest

    • Hi Jean! this is not an Appledore gull, but I’ll ask around to see if I can find the source. But, so glad you wrote us! I’ve spent many years at the Shoals and it’s really a home-away-from-home for me. Always good to hear from someone with connections out there. Keep your eyes peeled for other banded gulls – you might find one of ours! Best wishes, Julie

  21. 6/17/13 15:29 Hampton Beach State Park, Herring Gull green band N87 feeding on beach in a group of immature gulls and adults.

  22. Hi! We were on the beach at dcr; department of conservation & reservation; in Salisbury MA on July 17 and my son spotted R92 green band on a seagull and was wondering where it came from. I found your site on the Internet & we wanted to tell that we saw it if it will help with your research!

    • Hello Caralee! this is one of our gulls – thanks so much for the report! It was banded as a chick in July 2012 and this is the first time it’s been seen off the island. So, this is a great data point for us. If you have a photograph, would you please send it along? Best wishes, Julie

  23. I saw a juvenile black backed gull today in Monmouth Beach, NJ. It had a black band with white letters – 9X4. Would love to know if this is one of your banded birds.

    • Hello! Thanks for the resight – this does sound like one of our birds. 9X4 was banded as a chick in July 2012 and this is the first time it has been observed off the island! And, so interesting that it was in NJ! Thanks very much for reporting this and please feel free to send any additional resights out way. Did you happen to take a photograph? Best wishes, Julie

  24. I photographed a black backed gull on Wildwood Beach in New Jersey on August 5, 2013, Tag 3K1. I would love to know when he was tagged.

    • Hi Jill! Thanks for the resight! 3K1 was banded as an adult in 2010 and has been seen every summer since then on Appledore. A real “regular.” We know this bird is at least 8 yrs old, but could be older. We have 17 previous resights of banded gulls in coastal NJ, mostly Great Black-backed Gulls (rather than Herring Gulls) for some reason. Would you please send your photo of the bird to me at Thanks!!

  25. I have seen L51 (once) and C47 (several times) at Hampton Beach (south bath house area) in August. C47 is not shy, at all. He/she comes right up to your chair. Will try to get some pictures.

    • Hi Sharon!

      Are you the same Sharon who reported 7A3? L51 was banded as a chick in 2011 then seen at Hampton Beach in April 2012 and Feb 2013, then several times on Appledore during the summer of 2013. This is a great report as we now know that the bird is still alive and is a regular at Hampton! C47 was banded as a chick in 2005 and was later seen at Jenness Beach, NH in 2008, 2009, 2010. This bird has also been a regular at the island since it was banded, having been observed during the summer in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2013. Because the bird was banded as a chick, we know that it is now 8 yrs old. This is important information as it enables us to calculate survival rates for these birds. Thanks very much for these reports!

      • Hi Julie

        No I am not the Sharon that reported 7A3. 8/11 is the date from the posting on 8/15, C17-noticed a bit of a limp for this bird

        On the dates listed below, I saw the following birds.

        8/19 R47, C47 & C17

        8/20 C17 & L51

        8/21 black tag 4P4

        8/25 M92, R47, L51, L52, C47 & C17-limp was a bit better.

        I noticed C47 has less feathers around the eyes, is that do to age, illness or genetics?

        Thank you for the information on the gulls.

        I have a couple more days at the beach coming up and will let you know which gulls show up.


      • Hi Sharon! Thanks very much for all the resights!
        R47 was banded as a chick in 2012 and has been seen at Hampton several times during the year since.
        C17 was banded as a chick in 2005 so it’s 8 yrs old and it’s been resighted on Appledore and coastal NH 54 times since!
        4P4 was banded as an adult in 2010 and has returned to Appledore every year since. Yours is the first time this bird has been seen off the island.
        M92 was banded as a chick in 2012 and has been seen at Hampton a few times since then.
        L52 was banded as a chick in 2011 and was seen on Appledore this summer and at Hampton several times in the past year.

        Thanks for the resights! If you have the opportunity, please take digital photos and send them along – we like to have photos of the birds for our archives and for a project we’re working on to get pics of known-age birds for the purpose of helping people learn to ID gulls of various ages. Thanks! Julie

      • On Tuesday, March 29, 2016, The Gulls Of Appledore wrote:

        > Sharon commented: “I believe I am the Sharon who reported 7A3. How is > he/she doing? Any newer reports?” >

      • Hello!
        So sorry for the long delay in replying–we had an undetected issue with the site and are just now catching up with everyone’s comments! You can send your sightings directly to Bill Clark at from here on out!

  26. Hello all! I recently had a sighting of a 2nd Winter GBBG, marked with a dark green marker labelled ‘5T9’. I reported it to the USGS Banded Bird Reporting website and, on the Certificate of Appreciation that was received, it gave me all of the info for the Gull. 5T9 was banded on July 12th, 2011 by Dr. Morris. I saw it on Parker River National Wildlife Refuge/Sandy Point State Reservation on the 19th of August. Hopefully I will be able to find a few more of your friends in the future!

    • Hello Joseph!
      Thanks for the resight – this bird was banded, as you say, in 2011 and was seen one other time at Sandy Point State Park in Aug 2012. This is great information as we now know that this bird has survived its first year, we know one off-island location where it “hangs out,” and we can now wait and see if this bird returns to nest on Appledore. Thanks very much! Let us know if you see any more of our birds. Also, we love to receive photos of the birds. Best wishes, Julie

  27. Hello, I photographed a Seagull with an orange tag #669 in a Wal Mart parking lot in Ellsworth, ME. It also had a reddish tag on it’s left leg and a grayish colored tag on it’s right leg.

  28. Great Black-backed Gull 2E2 at Lot 7 at Parker River National Wildlife on October 17, 2013–he was cracking clams, and trying to chase off Herring Gulls that were trying (with some success) to steal the results of his hard work!

    Great Black-backed Gull 2E2

    • Hi Chris!

      2E2 is one of our “old timers” – he was banded as an adult in May 2006 and has been observed at or near Plum Island every winter since! He really likes that area for an overwintering site. I’ve added your report to our database – it’s great to know he’s alive and at his favorite wintering site. Please feel free to send additional reports of banded birds if you come across more! The data really help in our studies. Best wishes, Julie

    • Hi Kyle!

      thanks for this report – R03 was banded on Appledore as a chick in July 2012. this is the first time the bird has been observed off the island! very cool. good to know it’s still alive. Do you have any close-up photos of the bird? Thanks again and happy holidays! Best wishes, Julie

  29. HI! I took a picture of a seagull (I don’t know what type) with band 3AF. I saw this bird on December 12, 2013 at Canaveral National Seashore, FL. Is this one of yours?

    • Hi Laura! Do you recall the color of the band and the lettering? This might be one of mine – however, my bands are either a letter-number-number combination or a number-letter-number. In your case, the band was a number-letter-letter combination, which may be a bird from someone else’s project. So, if you can tell me the color of the band you saw, I might be able to track this down. Thanks for the report!! Best wishes, Julie

      • Julie, HI! According to the USGS the gull I saw was a Ring-Billed Gull banded by Jean Giroux – University of Quebec-Montreal.
        Happy New Year! Laura

    • Hi Laura!

      can you tell me what color the band and letters were? My bands have either a letter-number-letter combination or a letter-number-number combination. The band you describe is a number-letter-letter combo, which means it may belong to someone else’s project. If you can tell me the color combination I might be able to determine who banded this bird. Thanks!! Best wishes, Julie

    • Hi Yianni! yes, 2E2 is a “regular” at that site during the winter – he returns there EVERY winter! He was originally banded as an adult in 2006, so is at least 13 years old (we guess that Great Black-backed Gulls are around 5 yrs when they start breeding). Thanks very much for the report! Best wishes, Julie

  30. Hi on the morn. of 1/21/14 I was feeding a good looking young gull at Pierce Island in Portsmith N.H it had a green ban with L49 on it. is it one from the Shoals ?

    • Hi Don!

      Yes, this is one of our birds. L49 was banded as a chick at its nest in July 2011. It was seen at New Castle Municipal Beach in April 2013, and then seen again by you. Looks like it’s settling in the area. Thanks so much for your resight! If you happened to take any photos, you can send them to my email at

  31. Herring Gull

    Herring Gull X78 at Seabrook Harbor 2/4/2014. Incidentally noticed this banded bird when reviewing photos I’d shot of a flock, so photo’s not that great!

  32. HI,
    On 2-1614 I photographed Y95 in Lowell Mass on the Merrimack River. Is this your bird? This gull has strange, or should I say not typical Herring Gull plumage, so I am inclined to think it might not be an Appledore bird. If you like I can send you a photo.
    Suzanne Sullivan

  33. I saw Great Black-backed Gull 5T9 at Sandy Point Reservation on Plum Island on May 26, 2014. I see from the comments above it has been seen there before. There was another Gull associating closely with it. They appeared to be engaged in courtship behavior walking down the beach side by side. Photo here:

    Banded Great Black-backed Gull

  34. 07/12/2014 spotted a very large Gull with a band on its leg 3142 I think. It was a black band with white letters. The Gull seems very healthy, it did have a red mark on its beak. That may be normally, I am not sure. Spotted at Hampton Beach.

  35. Hi, spent the afternoon with a Herring gull with green band U10 on Plum Island, Sandy point on August 22, 2014. . it was larger, seemed quite healthy and more aggressive than the other Herring gulls, as it had our blanket staked out with the hope of finding leftovers when we had finished I guess. He had obviously lost his fear of humans because he stayed close by for hours on end!

  36. I saw a gull at North Beach in Hampton, NH with a green band that read 55C. I had been watching him (her?) because he was very aggressive and colored differently from the other gulls.

  37. On August 27, 2014 I observed 2E2 eating a skate in one of his his usual spots on the south end of Plum Island. When a Juv. flew in he stepped aside and let the youngster eat. I was shocked. The juv. also a has a leg band Y76 I am assuming this is his youngster since 2E2 would never let another bird take his food. Unfortunately, as of Sept. 1 Y76 now has both legs tangled in fishing line. he also has a limp. I say he because of the size of this gull, he is huge. I wish there was something I could do. I pick this line up constantly from the beach.
    Photos here and

  38. Hi…I’ve not read all of the posts above since I was just researching how to report a banded Lesser Black-backed Gull that I spotted on Hilton Head Island, SC yesterday morning. I have a photo that I will send directly to Dr. Julie Ellis. The best photo I have shows a dark greenish band with the letter/numbers that look like “P05″…although part of the letter is not clear. I’m thinking perhaps this bird is “F05”??? I will send the photos hopefully within the hour by email to Dr. Ellis.

  39. Saw a adult herring Gull with a green tag U41 on left leg on June 25 2014. located in the parking lot behind the Jack in the Box on Woodbury Ave. in Portsmouth NH. It was with an other adult (mate? walked back and forth together for a while) and 4 juveniles. Flew of by it self. Sorry about the delay, misplaced my notes. Allan

  40. Someone said that these birds were banded at Appledore. They are 2E2, 7P2, and 7Y6. 7Y6 had a handful (our should I say mouthful) trying to swallow this striped bass carcass. He managed after about 15 minutes!




  41. I photographed a banded Herring Gull in Harris Co TX 1/6/15 Green band C69 and metal band on other leg. Could this be one of yours?

  42. Hi again,

    So I was browsing the new gull videos on Youtube today – and it seems that someone has found one of your babies in Texas…

  43. Hi there,

    I sighted a HERG with the code 76C at Messick Point in Poquoson, Virginia today (5/3/2015). Is this one of your Appledore birds? Thanks!

  44. Hello. We spotted 56C today at a N. Hampton beach. He was a lil scalliwag as he tried to sneak food from our hands. He appeared healthy and well developed. Just wanted to let you know!

  45. Hello from Bethany Beach, DE. We are sitting here watching (and hearing) Herring Gull 8XL and friends search the late afternoon sand for tasty tidbits. Mostly sand I’m afraid.

  46. While at Manasquan Beach (NJ) Wed Aug 5, 2015, I photographed two (separate) banded gulls walking the sand — black band 5Y4, and green band U77. On Thu Aug 6, I photographed another banded gull working the low-tide line in the early morning — blue band H4C. Maybe they’re part of your studies?

  47. Hello, my sister and I just noticed a gull on Hampton beach NH wearing a green leg band with the number E51. The bird looked large and healthy and was begging for bread. 8/10/15. Jackie Gauthier, Rutland Vermont

  48. Hello,
    I just got back from a walk on Hampton beach during the rain and wind storm, 3:00 8/11/15. Brought bread so I had many sea gulls hovering around me. I saw L52 was very vocal and R37 had a foot missing, I made sure he got a piece of bread.

  49. Hello, I went for a 6:00 am walk on hampton beach this morning 8/12/15 with some bread scraps. This time I brought my camera.I have pictures of 93A, 01A, Who was a very comfortable beggar. L47 was very timid.R37 the amputee,who had turned a nice grey since his last sighting. I have to figure out how to post these pictures. I will keep trying.

  50. U37 Herring Gull, Friday Aug 21, 2015 about 3pm on Boardwalk at Hampton Beach, NH across from Playland Arcade. Was on railing, down on the sand, and on the sidewalk, vocal long begging with mouth left open most of the time. Would switch positions to chase of other gulls and position itself right in from of a potential food tosser. Didn’t take picture because I didn’t know about the project until I looked it up after noticing the band.

  51. On 8/25/15 I got this photo of GBBC 6K8 at Ragged Neck, Rye, NH, with a friend. I have found a previous sighting of her from Jones Beach, NY. Looks like she’s back in the old neighborhood.

  52. T47 (Herring Gull at the top of the page) spotted just south of Odiorne State Park in Rye, 9/1/2015, shaking an empty bag of chips to be sure nothing was still in there–when he was satisfied it was empty, he dropped it and flew away.

  53. Hi Julie- (I accidentally posted in the middle of the thread, so this is a repost)
    Spotted this gull with a green band reading A64 on Risden’s beach Nj. September 5, 2015.
    Is he part of the study? Do you have info on him if so? I have a pic, working on uploading it !
    He hung out with us all day, even tried to steal our keys from atop our cooler! Quite the character !!!!

  54. Saw a green tagged Herring gull today 9/18/15 on the north point of Strathmere NJ beach. It was marked U38. Don’t know if this is one tagged by your project or if they are being tracked anymore but I thought I would share the info.

  55. Found a banded Black Backed Gull at Rye Harbor State Park eating seal with a partner. A juvenile gull was hanging out with them, but not engaging in eating…appeared to be waiting for the two adults to finish. Juvenile had a BAD limp. Here’s a pic of the banded gull that I suspect came from Appledore Island. 6k8 (possibly GK8)

    • Hello!
      So sorry for the long delay in replying–we had an undetected issue with the site and are just now catching up with everyone’s comments! You can send your sightings directly to Bill Clark at from here on out!

    • Hello!
      So sorry for the long delay in replying–we had an undetected issue with the site and are just now catching up with everyone’s comments! You can send your sightings directly to Bill Clark at from here on out!

  56. On the morning of 3/6/2016 around 9:30am I spotted a herring gull with a black or very dark blue band on right leg. The number was K44. On the right leg was a silver band. The gull was outside our room at Lafayette resort in wells Maine. Very friendly. Could this be one of yours? Any history on the bird?

  57. Sighted a juvenile herring gull, with green band 76F on lower left leg at East Beach/Watch Hill beach in Westerly RI in 6/24.

  58. Saw a banded seagull U77 at Wallis Sands State Beach, Rye NH on Saturday, July 24, 2016. He was with other gulls eatting potatoe chips from bathers.

  59. I didn’t realize what the bands were on some birds in the Kennebunk Maine area until a guide told me. At any rate I pulled two hooks out of the jaw of one of your banded birds two days ago.

  60. Saw E81 at New Castle Common (took 2 photos) on the afternoon of Nov. 2, 2016. He was with a group of gulls eating fallen fruits from a tree. I see from earlier reports that he was banded as a chick in 2006 on Appledore! He’s over 10 years old and has been spotted at the Common before.

    • Hello!
      So sorry for the long delay in replying–we had an undetected issue with the site and are just now catching up with everyone’s comments! You can send your sightings directly to Bill Clark at from here on out!

  61. I was given your website to let you know I photographed a Great Black-backed Gull with black leg band on left, silver on the right. I inadvertently took its photo and then discovered the leg band. Dec 10, 2016 at 1pm, Arlington Reservoir, Arlington, MA.

    I’m happy to send you a photo. I think the black band says 3F3. Thank you!

    • Hello!
      So sorry for the long delay in replying–we had an undetected issue with the site and are just now catching up with everyone’s comments! You can send your sightings directly to Bill Clark at from here on out!

  62. Was at the North end of Hampton Beach where i took 3 photos of a Seagull . When i magnified the photos , i saw a dark green band on his leg with the number K30 on it . it kind of caught me by surprise as i did not know anyone was banding seagulls. This was on June 7,, 2019

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