Blue Herring Gulls ??
- Good Evening,
While lighting conditions were quite favourable for gull viewing along
the river tonight in Saskatoon, the wind was not. Still, though, I
lasted until 7:53 PM, from about 6:30 PM. And now, I am thawing out
over a nice warm cup of tea! A few things struck me about tonight's
1) The gulls had split themselves into two roosts, one on either side of
the University Bridge, with the majority on my side. So, the few
hundred on the other side went largely unobserved for me, as it was
slightly too far away.
2) What gulls were spread out in front of me in the "main roost"
numbered approximately 4200 or so. Of these, I was surprised to find
that perhaps the majority were Herring Gulls, contrary to the previous
couple of evenings. The next most populous species was California, with
only a relatively few Ring-billed trailing a very distant third.
3) At least five of the Herring Gulls, that I could tell, had what
appeared to be blue dye on their feathers. They were amongst the many
Herrings, and appeared to interact normally with them. Three of these
only appeared lightly "smudged" with the blue dye on their bellies, and
one had a smudgy blue breast and front. The remaining bird, as I
watched it for about 15 minutes straight, slept with its head tucked to
the right, revealing a strong blue streak across the neck, and light
smudging (blotchy) all the way down the front to the belly. When I came
back to this same gull perhaps 15 minutes after that, it was moving
around a little bit. When it turned its head, I noticed that the entire
right side of its head, especially around the eye and beak, was a very
concentrated deep blue in colour.
I know that in 2004, Ducks Unlimited was affiliated with an
American-based study using colour-dyed Lesser Scaup, so my question is,
having never seen a marked bird such as this before, is anyone aware of
a recent or current scientific study being conducted on Herring Gulls
that they should be dyed as such? And if so, is there anywhere I should
be reported this info to?
A final note-- also present along the river this evening, with only
about a 100 or so Canada Geese that I saw (low number!), were a single
Mallard and the Hooded Merganser. No goldeneye could be found. And, on
the way back, I startled my high count of 4 American Robins from a tree,
across from the Diefenbaker Centre, in which they were resting for the
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