Welcome to Week #12 of the Bird Weekly Photo Challenge. Week #12 challenge is Seagulls.
Upcoming challenges can be found on my Bird Weekly Challenge Page.
The feature image is a Ring-billed Gull flying just above us at the beach.
I think everyone has seen a seagull at some point in their lives. They are not just a coastal species, they are inland as well. Generally, they don’t venture out to sea, except the kittiwakes. They are closely related to the terns and distantly related to auks, skimmers and other waders. They range in size of 11 1/2″ to 30″ and all basically have the same shape.
The Ring-billed Gull is a medium size gull that is often seen on coastal beaches. They will move inland and those that are born away from the coastline, may never visit the sea. They are very social and tend to hang around garbage dumps, parking lots and freshly plowed fields. This gull is very common across the United States, Mexico and Canada. It is well defined with its pink bill and black tip. The photo above is a non-breeding adult. Breeding adults have a white head and red orbital ring around their eye. Interesting fact about this gull is the nesting colony normally includes a small percentage of two-female couples fertilized by an obliging male. Each female spouse lays a clutch of eggs. 5-7 eggs is considered a superclutch. Equality for ALL!
Laughing gulls are predominantly found along the coastline of the Eastern United States southward into the Caribbean and along the coast of Mexico, Panama & into South America. They are so common here in Florida, it is the majority of my gull photos. They get their name from their noisy call that sounds like a laugh. The male & female usually build their nest together. If a male cannot find a mate, he will start building a nest platform, hoping to attract a female. They forage during the day and if you open a bag of potato chips on the beach, they will hunt you down.
Sorry about the blurriness on this photo. It’s the only Herring Gull photo I could find. The Herring Gull is in the background and is widespread across North America (Franklin’s Gull in the foreground). This is a large gull that will stand out in a crowd hovering over all other gulls at 25″. They also are distinctive by their pink legs. It is believed that this gull has extended its breeding range, displacing the Laughing Gull from some of their areas. In turn, the Herring Gull seems to be getting displaced by the Great Black-backed Gulls as their numbers have increased. The Great Black-backed Gull is 30″ in length and is the largest of the gulls. Sorry no photo of that guy!
Franklin’s Gull is not a common bird in Florida and I could have included it last week with the rare birds. This photo was from several years ago. Their normal range of migration is central & western parts of the U.S and Mexico. They breed in the north-central US & Central Canada. They spend their winters in Chile & Peru. This species is very similar to the Laughing Gull, just a couple inches smaller. In breeding plumage, they will show a rosy pink cast on the chest and the color will fade as breeding season moves along and ends. I’ve never seen this myself since I’ve never been to Canada or even the northern states during winter time. This gull has been known to migrate far from their normal grounds and have been spotted in places like Taiwan, Hong, Kong, Australia and New Zealand. I wonder if I can hitch a ride with them on the next trip?
Bonaparte’s Gull is a small gull at 13.5″ in length. It is the only gull species that regularly nests in trees. This bird was named after Charles Lucien Bonaparte, a cousin of Napoleon Bonaparte. Charles was an active member of the Academy of National Sciences of Philadelphia during the 1820s and was a contributor to American ornithology. The gull in the photo is a non-breeding which is understandable since they breed in Canada.
Until next week…Week #13 – Domesticated Birds