Thursday, September 10, 2009

Young gulls....

are easy to recognize with their gray and rather mottled appearance and there are quite a few of them on our beaches and in parking lots right now. Some species of gull keep their immature plumage for up to 4 years though the average is probably more like 2-3 years.

This young bird is a first year herring gull. Herring gulls used to be the dominant gull on the Cape, with a few greater Black-backed gulls mixed in and laughing gulls in the summer. Black-backs are now the dominant gull, I believe. They are the largest gull and very aggressive so that is not surprising. There are still plenty of herring gulls around, though. They are the gulls most people around here refer to as sea gulls. There aren't really any particular birds named sea gull, by the way. It's just a general sort of name, like minnows for tiny fish.....
This is an adult herring gull starting to go into its fall plumage. See the red tip at the end of the beak? That is fading now but in the spring and summer that is a bright red. Baby gulls eat food regurgitated by their parents and they let their parents know they are hungry by pecking on the red spot.

Do you know why herring gulls are called herring gulls?

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