Happy Thanksgiving Everyone! Things have been busy around Brianland lately thanks to some creative work going on in the Halloween Decoration arena, Project Auunoooold activities (yes, that effort is STILL going on) and. of course. the general holiday gatherings and such. As a result, my throughput on the Blog has suffered a little and for that I apologize. I was a little shocked today when I looked at the calendar and noticed a) I only had three posts so far this month and b) there wasn’t a whole lot of boxes left on there. Good thing is whenever I get in a bind I can always put a bird post out and that is exactly what we are going to do today. Ladies and gentlemen I introduce you to…
The “laughing” Gull. Actually, that isn’t the technical name of this bird (thus the quoting), but thought it would be a clever play on the picture above. It does look like it is having a fun time hanging out on the shores of the Mississippi River. Linda and I were up there on a shoot in the Quad Cities. For the curious, the Laughing Gull pretty much hangs out along the Southeast coast of the US which puts it out of range for this particular shot.
I was out taking some shots along the shore when noticed this specimen foraging alone. Usually I don’t spend much time on the Gulls because of their abundance and the number of times I’ve been given rude looks by locals who spot me giving them any attention at all – one things is for sure, shoreline locals HATE the Gull and don’t appreciate it when they see someone that might be encouraging them to hang around for any length of time (this especially refers to people on Mackinac Island who openly chastised me for taking a picture of Gull there – I looked at them, listened to their whine and then continued shooting but good to know where they stand).
Hit the jump to read more about this colorful Gull.
Sorry, got off on a tangent. Guessing you want to know what this bird is unless you happen to be familiar of the 50,000 species of Gulls (maybe a slight exaggeration, but they give the Sparrow a run for their money). Based on quite a bit of research, I’ve come to the conclusion that this colorful shorebird is a Franklin’s Gull. I am always open to alternatives if you have them but this specimen pretty much matches all the references in my bird guides. I did start with the Laughing Gull, by the way, just because of their similar coloring. It didn’t occur until digging in a little further and seeing the narrow regions they hang out in that this was the wrong avenue.
The Laughing and the Franklin both have reddish bills, black hoods and dominant white bellies with gray wing tops. On the ground they look really similar. Once the flying shots were processes a slight nuance led me to the Franklin’s recommendation. The Laughing has solid black wingtips. As you can see, this one sports white bands on outer portions which fits with the coloring on the Franklin. Everything else checked out nicely as well.
Some interesting notes on this bird .. and by some I mean just a few seeing as Wikipedia has very little. They did mention that this Gull was named after Sir John Franklin. He was an Arctic explorer that discovered this particular bird while on an 1823 expedition. Luckily the Cornell Labs site had some additional details.
The Franklin’s performs two molts a year which according to Cornell is unique among the Gull family. Their nests are typically built on the water – floating to be specific, requiring continual repair until they depart the colony. As you would expect being a Gull and all, they are foragers eating insects, worms, fish and .. wait for it .. garbage. Visions of Finding Nemo come to mind – Mine! Mine! Mine! Mine! And finally, the best factoid to see, is they are Least Concern on the Conservation Status but listed in steep decline due to losses of wetlands. Guessing the constant flooding over the last couple of years along the Mississippi banks is a welcome climate event for them.
Not a gallery shot by any means, the following was added simply for identification purposes. None of the previous shots really showed the back feathering and since that was a critical piece of the identification, included one that shows a bit of that.
This bird ended up saving the shoot. There wasn’t a whole lot out that day and what I did find ended up being really skittish. A flock of Blue Herons was the real reason I was at that spot seeing them as Linda drove by. They heard my footsteps while navigating my way through the shore trees and took flight before I could get the tripod on firm ground. Thanks to spotting the orange red calling card of this bird I now have a new check mark in the list – Sweet!
Enjoy your Turkey – type you again soon.