By Felicity Bosk
1. They almost went extinct
In the 1880’s seagulls were nearly wiped out by hunters who wanted their white feathers and eggs. The population has risen thanks for conservation efforts such as the Migratory Bird Treaty of 1918 which made it illegal to kill or capture migratory birds. Still, shorebirds are among the most threatened breeds of birds in North America.
2. They don’t have a song; just calls.
Many birds have songs they use to attract mates. This is not a practice among the seagulls in Superior. Instead they use a variety of complex calls. One call they use is a unique personal identifier. When they make long calls, its typically used to attract mates. When they use several short calls, its to warn nearby seagulls.
3. Males and females raise their chicks together
Both parents will take turns keeping their eggs warm, usually each taking a 3-4 hour shift. When a seagull is sleeping in their nest, their mate will sleep beside them. They often mate for life and take turns with the responsibility of parenting. They even chose the site of their nest together.
4. They are not “Sea Gulls”
The white birds with grey wings that we see all over the place are not actually sea gulls, but are instead American Herring Gulls. They are the most familiar type of gull in North America. There are numerous breeds of gulls and many popularly go by the name “sea gull” but the ones found around Superior are actually American Herring Gulls.