Thursday, July 19, 2012

Herring Gull

To Escape the heat for a couple of days, I headed to Duluth to cool off.  Even up there it was in the 90's, except when you get right down to the shoreline, which is what I did.

It is not a great time for seeing a variety of birds, as they are hunkered down raising their young.  Consequently, I decided to make a study of these two gulls.  They are about the only species of gulls on the big lake at this time of the year.  Later on, in the fall, winter and spring, one can see a wonderful variety of gulls -- the Thayer's Gull, Iceland gull,  Glaucous Gull and others.

There is a pleasant two mile walk along the Lester River shoreline just at the north edge of town.  It's a city park, actually.  Here I found them both.  They are really quite similar, with the Herring Gull being a bit larger. 

The ring around the appropriately named gull can be deceiving -- sometimes only a mature bird will display this ring.

Otherwise, both gulls look as though they have dipped their bills into a bottle of ink.  The best identifying mark I found was in the color of their legs.  The Ring-Billed gulls haves distinct yellow legs, whereas the Herring Gull has pinkish, or grayish legs.  The gulls we find around here are, most likely, the Herring Gulls.

The Kmart parking lot just off of Nicollet Avenue is a great place to find them, but the Kmarts are disappearing... like vanishing bird species.  The gulls had consequently moved over to Walmart... until, that is, just the other day, when it came to light that Walmart has been doing business with farms here in Minnesota that have been cited for cruelty to animals.  I suggested to the gulls at one of their council meetings that they might upgrade to the Target lot, especially the one over on Minnehaha Avenue in Minneapolis, which is also near a Cub and Rainbow grocery store.  But they reminded me that Target made a large contribution to the Emmer campaign during the last gubernatorial race in support of his stance on gays. (Apparently there are more gay gulls than I ever realized.)  I assured them however, that Target has apologized, and has reversed it's stance on the issue.  The gulls seemed gratified to hear this.  We'll see...

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