Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Surprising Things About Gulls

I love to learn new things. And this past weekend, I learned some interesting facts about gulls and what they eat.

I knew gulls eat fish and will steal fish from other birds, like ducks. I knew they eat garbage, carrion, popcorn, bread, etc... But what I didn't know was that some of the bigger ones will eat large birds and even rabbits! Yes, it is true.
John Pogacnik, who was one of the leaders of the pelagic tour, witnessed a Glaucous Gull, Larus hyperboreus, kill and eat a starling a few years ago. Grabbed it by the head. I am guessing it killed it by breaking its neck. I thought this was interesting, so I did a little research.

What I learned was a larger gull, the Great Black-backed Gull, Larus marinus, will take even bigger prey. From Wikipedia I found the following quote "They generally target chicks since they are easily found, handled, and swallowed. They can swallow puffins, terns[5] or small ducks whole."

After reading this, I thought, surely not. I was very skeptical. But then I followed one of the links showing a Great Black-backed Gull devour a tern whole. Nope, didn't pull it apart. It couldn't, it was on the water. The article from the Manchester Bird Watching Examiner is here and has a slide show to go along with the article. Amazing!

The powerful beak of the Great Black-backed Gull

Digging a little more, I found this. The following link will show a Great Black-backed Gull kill and start eating an American Coot. The American Coot may look small in the photos compared to the gull, but they weigh a little over a pound and are 16 inches in length. This is not a tiny bird by any means.

And finally I found a photo from Flickr by Recycled Teenager of a Great Black-backed Gull munching on a bunny. I had no idea they would take that large of prey.

So I learned something new about gulls! Hope you did, too!

Photos from Wikipedia and by Recycled Teenager on Flickr.StumbleUpon

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