Gulls On Film…

Ok, I don’t really use film anymore, but as you probably have noticed (and groaned at…often) I like to use puns for my blog titles or somehow incorporate them into a pop culture reference, whenever possible.

Identifying Gulls is really hard sometimes.  When you have a healthy and clean adult bird like a Herring Gull, Great Black-Backed Gull or Ring-Billed Gull the ID isn’t too hard.  I would go out on a limb to say these are the three most common gulls you’ll see in this area, probably the Northeast US as a whole too… maybe more, but my birding experience is mostly from NJ to Maine.

When these birds are near each other, size comparison makes it easy if you can’t tell by field marks.  There are between 17 and 20 species of Gull that you can come across in the East and that is hard enough, but when you take into account their plumage variations, its enough to make you look passed them as a genus altogether.

For example, the Herring Gull goes through 4 cycles before it gets its adult plumage!  A Herring gull has its juvenile feathers then its 1st winter feathers, then its 2nd and 3rd winter feathers and then it becomes and adult… but wait, there’s more… when it is an adult it varies (subtly, a small mercy at least) from its winter and breeding plumage.

Before I got into birds I always thought that some of them were either other species or that they were just really dirty because, hell, they like to rummage in trash containers and dumps, so why wouldn’t they be dirty?

You’ll also notice I refer to them as gulls and not seagulls.  There actually are no such birds as seagulls and I have been reminded of that by many a birder when I refer to them as seagulls.  But I need to differentiate them between seagulls and bagels (bay-gulls?) because I am a Jew and I know my bagels!  (I can distinguish between an onion and a garlic bagel at great distances with my unaided eye.)

Then there are black headed gulls like the Laughing Gull and the Bonaparte’s Gull and white-winged gulls like the Iceland Gull and then hybrids and rarities and who knew identifying gulls would be so tricky?

Below find images of the more common Gull species in this area.  The last two photos were actually taken in 2010.  The panel shows a Great Black-Backed Gull snatching an Eider duckling.  The Great Black-Backed Gull is as much an opportunist as the others, but is highly predatory as well.


5 thoughts on “Gulls On Film…

    • Really, I think its a bit silly. Its a colloquialism I think. For instance there is no “Seahawk.” That is really just a nickname for an Osprey, but it didn’t stop a Footbball team in Seattle from using it as the official name for its team. Technically you can find these birds inland too so I guess they aren’t attached to the Sea and that gives a false impression.

  1. I know seagulls (OK, gulls) don’t get no respect, but I’ve always liked them. Perhaps it’s because I grew up far from the sea and they were a rare sight in my young life, but I think they’re quite beautiful. I enjoyed watching them on the river from my apartment. I love that second shot, where the three different gulls are lined up and posed for you like a museum display!

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