Gulls – Ocean’s Cleanup Crew
Gulls are among the most common waterbirds of ocean and coastal zones worldwide. There are more than 40 species of gull, including kittiwakes. Adult gulls are usually white or gray, sometimes with dark markings. They range in length from about 28 to 79 centimeters. A gull’s bill is strong and slightly hooked. Their wings are long and pointed, and gulls have a short squared tail.
Along the shore, gulls are helpful to the people who clean beaches and harbors. They swoop down to pick up messy things. Gulls eat almost anything, from dead fish and animals to potato chips. Gulls also follow fishing boats, feeding on offal and by-catch as it is discarded overboard. These birds eat all day long just to stay alive. While flying many miles without stopping, they use up a lot of energy. Some gulls travel enormous distances between their summer and winter homes.
Their feet are webbed that’s why they are good swimmers. By the way, gulls are able to stay on top of the water like a piece of wood does.
During the breeding season they nest in loose colonies. Most species nest on the ground, but a few nest on ledges on cliffs. Gulls lay one to four greenish eggs, which are incubated by both sexes of the pairs. In many places gulls’ eggs are regarded as a delicacy and are collected as a subsistence food or to sell.
Bonaparte’s gull was named after Charles-Lucien Bonaparte, a nephew of the famous French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. The younger Bonaparte spent much of his life studying the world’s birds.
The world’s largest gull is the greater black-backed gull. This large, black-mantled species breeds on the north Atlantic coasts of both North America and Europe.
Sailors hold these birds in great reverence, and some even say that the souls of those lost at sea live on in the bodies of the birds, which are as dazzling white as the lacy surf.