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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

BirdNote® Gulls of Summer

Air Date: Week of
Laughing Gull (Photo: © Tom Grey)

In August, a variety of species of gulls travel to the Pacific and Atlantic coasts after nesting elsewhere. Mary McCann has more.


CURWOOD: It’s Living on Earth, I’m Steve Curwood


CURWOOD: You might think that a gull is a gull is a gull - but, as BirdNote®’s Mary McCann reports - it isn’t exactly so.


MCCANN: If you visit the beach as summer wanes, you may notice that gulls with different appearances are showing up. Gull-watching is pretty tame along the coasts most of the summer. Many gull species retreat well north to nest, a few others inland. Along the Atlantic, it’s mostly nesting Herring and Laughing Gulls that stick around through summer. On the Pacific coast, it’s Glaucous-winged and Western.

But by late August, the picture begins to change. Bonaparte’s Gulls begin arriving along both coasts and at the Great Lakes. These small, sleek, black-headed birds begin flocking south in August.


MCCANN: Handsome, pale gray Ring-billed Gulls also return to both coasts in late summer, most having nested inland.


MCCANN: Both species winter along the coasts:


MCCANN: And along the Pacific, one very distinctive gull has come just for a summer visit – the Heermann’s Gull.


MCCANN: Watch for a gull with a very dark back, a powder-white head, and – unmistakably – a blood-red beak. Heermann’s Gulls nest along the northwest coast of Mexico, disperse northward for a few months each summer, then return south. I'm Mary McCann

CURWOOD: That's BirdNote®’s Mary McCann. To see some gull-iful photos of some of the gulls mentioned in this BirdNote®, flock over to our website LOE dot org.



Calls of the gulls provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Glaucous-winged recorded by A.A. Allen, & Bonaparte’s by G.A. Keller & by W.W.H. Gunn; call of Ring-billed Gull by L. Macaulay.

Heermann’s Gulls recorded by Martyn Stewart, Naturesound.org.

Ambient track recorded by Kessler Productions.



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