Monday, July 8, 2019

On the Shores of Our Inland Sea

This may be considered part two of the previous entry about wildlife. This one deals with seagulls. We have them here in southern Alberta. We are 463 miles (745 kilometres) from Vancouver, and the nearest sea or ocean. They are definitely seagulls: they sound like them and look like them, down to the webbed feet.

I noticed them decades ago, and wondered how they arrived here. I was told many years past that the gulls followed the settlers’ wagons here. That explanation is of course silly, for a number of reasons.

Assuming that all settlers started from harbour towns – which is improbable - why would sea-birds leave the coast? I was informed that they liked what settlers threw, as garbage, out the back of their wagons. Well, I think settlers – frugal people - aren’t going to discard so much that they would entice gulls away from a sure and easily obtained buffet on the seashore.

If the birds pursued colonists’ wagons, why did they not follow others’? Pedlars, soldiers, navvies building roads… And why would they follow settlers all the way to the prairies? Why are there not flocks of seagulls all along the route from the St Lawrence to Alberta?

No, clearly there is another explanation for the presence of these birds-out-of-water. They have been in this town for as long as I can remember, but flying about this apartment building is new. Not having fish to catch, the gulls have turned to scavenging, and are rivals of the crows. I have seen fewer magpies this year, and more crows, and many more gulls. As may be observed, they visit the outsider-cats’ dish from time to time, to see what leftovers may be had. I don’t begrudge them a meal. Nature’s restaurant is not always well-stocked with every species’ favourite fare.

Other than Hugo (who is now known to be Finn, a cat with a home, though perhaps not as much soft-food as he would like), I have had no outsider-cats visiting Café Cosy. Sable and Sablette have not been seen for a couple of months. So, if a skunk (perhaps Horace, from last year) wishes to eat the hard-food during the night, and seagulls the soft-food remnants during the day, I won’t turn them away. Wildlife needs all the help it can get these days, even – or especially – those expatriates, the seagulls, on the dry shores of our inland sea.


  1. I live just 18 miles from the coast..And in and
    around my home one always sees seagulls, herring
    gulls etc..though 'seagulls' don't's just
    a common name we give them, the 'seagull' is actually
    the 'common gull'...and l see a lot more when the weather
    is bad, so they come inland..well..would you stay at sea
    if the weather is bad!

    Gulls are protected here in the UK as they are in the USA.
    But, there have been numerous attacks by gulls, only last
    week, just down on the coast an elderly couple were attacked,
    the gentleman was scared and bleeding from his bald head...
    They were eating fish and chips at the time, so that explains
    it all..!

    I consume a lot of game, grew up on it, pheasant, rabbit,
    partridge, venison..etc..even squirrel and rook..!
    Gulls..NO! Simply because of the rubbish they eat, the meat
    on an animal is decided mostly on it's diet..Gulls will eat
    chips, cigarette ends, anything out of a garbage bin and
    drink beer..So..Best left alone..!

    Your right about Wildlife needing help John..l also
    support three animal charities..far to much cruelty going
    on in the world, not only to humans, but the wildlife as
    well...AND! It has to stop...!

  2. You know, I too have wondered why the seagulls are here as well. Mind, not all year that I can discern but certainly in the warm months. Parking lots where uncaring humans throw their food scraps down as they exit their cars to go in a store...over by the river of course. They only frequent stores and the river area. Ring Billed Gulls mostly. But why here in the mountainous area? I looked them up just now. They tend to be the ones we see mostly and in the places I just mentioned seeing them.

    1. I had no idea they were in your part of the world, too. Mountains so far inland seem as strange an environemtn for them as plains.

  3. Are there any bodies of water in your area that would attract them? (Lake?) We certainly have them in abundance here, but we're also on Lake Ontario, though it's "fresh" water, not salt water. I think they can, as scavengers, thrive just about anywhere they can find food. Your Café must seem like a buffet to them. :-)

    BTW, it's nice to know that Hugo/Finn does have a home, even if he (perhaps) doesn't get the canned he'd like there.

    1. There are small lakes near by, most man-made, and what are called 'sloughs' (slooz), which are stagnant ponds that usually dry up in winter; they are often for the cattle to drink from. Ducks and geese use them while migrating, but they are not big enough to have attracted gulls from the sea.

  4. Your observations about the wildlife in your area were interesting. We have also had increased wildlife sightings in my area. Humans have encroached upon the territory of wildlife for so long (not to mention destroying their habitat), that I would think the wildlife would be drawn to wherever they could find food.

  5. I've had the same 2uestion about seagulls in Wisconsin. Granted we have a great lake on the east side of the Stars, but how did they end up a few hours West of there. And they scavenge, too.

    1. If they are a few hours from Lake Superior then I can understand their drifting westward. And it seems that they turn to scavenging almost exclusively when not on the sea - though from what Willie writes, they appear to do that even when at the coast.

  6. Those seagulls are always busy doing something and checking out the menus!

  7. When in Bath, England last year, my sister was hit by a HUGE stream of seagull poop. What a combination of the desire to laugh, but that's my sister, so I had to commiserate instead. Thankfully, we were only a few blocks from our rented apartment, so a shower and change of clothes made it all right again. But seagulls can be nasty birds.

  8. Interesting. Apparently "seagulls" is a bit of a misnomer. It's not at all uncommon for them to live far from the sea. (Incidentally, the shopping mall half a mile from my house is always full of them.)

    1. The article makes sense. But I feel that scavengers have their place in nature, even in the unnatural world man has created, perhaps now more than ever.

  9. sum thin toll uz... due KNOT reed thiz post


    1. Yes, sorry, guys; you won't like the subject matter. I'm even sympathetic to them...

  10. We have similar gulls as well though we have a much less flattering name for them. Sh*t hawks! These are definitely scavengers and tend to hang around the local fast food restaurants outdoor patios. I've not seen any in my neighbourhood. You mentioned more crows and fewer magpies - I've seen only one or two crows and a similar number of magpies. The majority of the birds that come into my yard are the grackles, finches, wrens, sparrows, and robins. I'm with you, a little extra feeding doesn't hurt.

  11. That is interesting that you have gulls that far inland. I wonder if someone brought them for some reason long ago and then they got loose or were released. I suppose they can use a good meal as it really is a tough world out there