Every January (or December) there’s a flock of seagulls that migrate through Morehead, KY. I’ve been watching them for years, now.
They hang out in the Walmart parking lot, mobbing anything that an unsuspecting passerby tosses to them.
It’s still really weird to me, since Kentucky IS a landlocked state, but who knows? Maybe they come up the river? One has to be amazed at their resourcefulness, if nothing else!
This year I could get closer, and could see that some of them must be juveniles – they still have grey on their heads. It’s entertaining to watch them do their calls and posturing, and if you stop and roll the car window down, they wait to see what’s going to happen! They have no fear, and if you do toss out something like ‘goldfish’ crackers, they descend from the sky as well as hopping awkwardly toward the food. It’s like tossing candy into a bunch of small children at a party – dogpile! Or, I guess, seagull-pile!
15 Bits of Seagull Trivia
- Seagulls are found on every continent, even Antarctica!
- Gulls are omnivores, which is no surprise to anyone who has watched them at the seashore (or in the parking lot).. This means they’ll eat pretty much anything that doesn’t bite back, and will try to eat things like crabs, too.
- Seagulls are actually not confined to the shoreline environment, despite their common name! They’re commonly found inland, although they do seem to prefer being close to water.
- Gulls can actually drink saltwater (although they prefer fresh). They have a special gland that helps regulate the salts in their blood, and it will cause excess salt ions to be excreted.
- There are somewhere around 50 different species of gulls. It depends on how they’re classified, and scientists are always re-classifying things.
- A flock of gulls is properly called a ‘squabble’, a ‘scavenging’, a ‘flotilla’ or a ‘colony’.
- Most gulls mate for life, and stay monogamous. They have been recorded as “divorcing”, though. Usually it’s because they can’t raise healthy chicks.
- A divorced gull may have to wait several seasons before another bird will mate with it!
- The state bird of Utah is the California gull.
- Manannan Mac Lir, the god of the sea of Irish and Gaelic mythology, was usually portrayed as a gull, and was considered a trickster.
- One banded Herring gull lived for 29 years! Not bad for a bird, eh?
- The Mew gull nests in treetops, while most gulls use a ‘scrape’ on the ground.
- When the Mormon settlers’ crops were being mowed down by locusts, flocks of seagulls saved the day! The gulls decimated the locusts, and the Mormons raised a stone monument to them in Salt Lake City.
- Gulls not only will steal other birds’ eggs or chicks to eat, they’ll even cannibalize their neighboring gulls.
- The only regular predator that gulls have to worry about is sea eagles like the Bald Eagle. An eagle can slip into a flock of gulls and grab one, then squeeze it or drown it before carrying it off for dinner.
If you think that gulls are just flying rats, here’s something to ponder: Gulls have been observed dropping hard-shelled mollusks like clams onto rocks to break them open. And, once they have that mastered, they teach their kids! They may, in fact, be the equivalent of a flying rat, but they’re definitely intelligent!
I remember reading ‘Jonathan Livingston Seagull’ when I was a kid, and dreaming about being able to fly…Maybe that’s why I learned to hang-glide?
Watching birds is always interesting if you really pay attention. They have their own social structures, their individual ‘things’, and inter-species communication. I’m always learning something new, (although my husband frequently tells me that I already knew that) and I like to think that it’s keeping me young.
Try it! Stop and watch a bird today, even if it’s just a seagull or a pigeon. You may learn something if you keep your eyes peeled!