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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

BirdNote® Gulls of Summer

Air Date: Week of August 3, 2012

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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.

Transcript

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

[BIRDNOTE® THEME]

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.

[CALLS OF GLACOUS-WINGED GULLS]

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.

[CALLS OF A FLOCK OF BONAPARTE’S GULLS]

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

[CALL OF A RING-BILLED GULL]

MCCANN: Both species winter along the coasts:

[CALL OF A RING-BILLED GULL]

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

[CALL OF 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.

 

Links

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.

BirdNote®

 

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