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Monday, October 25, 2010

Seagull Portrait

Here's one of Victoria's most common birds whose querulous and mournful call often provides the ambient music to our days. As I have mentioned before, it is difficult to take a photo in Victoria without including a gull somewhere in the background. Here is one who posed prettily out at Esquimalt Lagoon. They are so ubiquitous here it is easy to forget what graceful and resourceful birds they are. Here is a little more information about gulls - no need to read further if you know what kleptoparasitism is....

Gulls—the larger species in particular—are resourceful, inquisitive and intelligent birds, demonstrating complex methods of communication and a highly developed social structure. For example, many gull colonies display mobbing behaviour, attacking and harassing would-be predators and other intruders. Certain species (e.g. the Herring Gull) have exhibited tool use behaviour, using pieces of bread as bait with which to catch goldfish, for example. Many species of gull have learned to coexist successfully with humans and have thrived in human habitats. Others rely on kleptoparasitism to get their food. Gulls have been observed preying on live whales, landing on the whale as it surfaces to peck out pieces of flesh. A seagull in Aberdeen has been seen repeatedly shoplifting bagged crisps from a shop, apparently displaying a preference for cheese flavour Doritos.

From Wikipedia
Thanks to commenter and fellow blogger Mike Laplante, here is a video of the infamous Dorito thief.

I have a soft spot for Doritos myself.


Dean Lewis said...

There really is a lot to observe with these guys. Anytime I hear them squawking en masse and flying very high in a seemingly chaotic pattern, cris-crossing each other, I know it is a defense strategy when a bald eagle is in their midst. Nine times out of ten, an eagle is departing after preying on them, sometimes including carrying one back to it's nest.
The other day I threw my gum into the harbour and one very quick and observant gull swooped down and dived after it and emerged with it in his beak.
Anyone eating near the harbour probably has ten pairs of gull eyes on them. I can see where the 'kleptoparasitism' term comes from.
They do have a graceful and wide wingspan and a beak that reminds me of an albatross.
Being so plentiful, they're good at what they do.
The Race Rocks Island webcam is a great opportunity to watch their nesting and fledgling activity.

JoJo said...

I love the sound of the seagull cry. Being raised on Cape Cod, I've been hearing that sound my whole life.

BTW, some yahoo tourist thought it'd be a good idea to toss her leftover fish & chips (from Barb's) onto the dock and watch the gulls fight over it, till one of the employees came out and told her to stop.

Mike Laplante said...

The infamous Dorito thief:

Mel Mel said...

I love seagulls - I think they're awesome birds. I know some people feel they're just rats with wings but the seacoast wouldn't be the same without them!

Mike Laplante said...

What cracks me up is the way the gull strolls so casually into the store and glances about the selection before gunning for the Doritos.