A windy day! Most of the birds have taken refuge along the shoreline.
Almost none on the water. I park by the Black Canyon Audubon's Shorebird sign and check the area along Vela's shoreline. Large white, headless lumps... American white pelicans ... sleeping? Or just resting? There are the gray shorebirds with black bills and legs foraging along ... some of our resident willets.
But close to the water's edge, at least 15 smaller gray lumps. About the size of gulls. One raises its head, but then the head's under wing again. There are many species of gulls, with over 50 included in "Sibley's Guide to Birds." And they are often difficult to identify. Our most common, the ring-billed gull, has four molts before the bird reaches maturity, and thereby four different appearances. Plus the gulls easily hybridize. With such a variety of plumage, and the fact that we don't have many different species of gulls at Hart's Basin, I haven't even tried to master the details.
Our bird spends the winter along our coasts and inland through the southeast, but it migrates through the interior United States. It nests inland in Canada. So, a "gull" is not necessarily a "sea gull." In fact, the same pattern is found in the other migrants at Hart's Basin: Franklin's, Bonaparte's, and California gull. The scientific name is Larus delawarensis with larus Latin for "gull" or "seabird." Our settlers arrived on the East Coast, so many of our birds and plants were seen and named there, hence "delaware."
A noisy truck roars by and all of the birds take flight. Ah, the beauty of a gull in flight! Now the pelicans land. But they're far away, along the eastern shore. The gulls wheel and turn, then all land on the water, floating serenely as if nothing had happened. The wind dies down and the scene is calm.blog comments powered by Disqus