Thursday, July 28, 2005

Laughing gulls

Larus atricilla visit our island from spring until late fall; then they head down south. They do this out of seagull force of habit, I suppose, since it doesn't exactly get cold here. They can't be following fish migration patterns either--they're mediocre fishermen, subsisting mostly on crabs, shrimp and whatever they can steal from the local avian population. According to a birding website at Cornell University, they were almost wiped out in the 1800s, thanks in part to a seagull-feather-hat fad. Some of the island's human population probably wish they'd gone the way of the dodo. Each year they arrive in April in massive numbers apparently intent on starting a bird rumble with the pelicans who nest around one of the island's salt marshes. If you live nearby, you're stuck listening to the argument until about 4 a.m., when the gulls lose their voices.

These gulls aren't looking for trouble, however. They've come inland to keep an eye on an approaching storm.


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