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Common Gull (Larus canus)

Updated: Aug 21, 2023

Date: June 8th, 2023

Location: United States, Massachusetts, Nantucket

If you've been any coastal cities all around the world, you've probably seen these prevalent, beautiful, yet noisy birds called the common gull. This species also known as the sea mew (Larus canus). With its distinctive features and enchanting behaviors, this medium-sized gull from the Laridae family has become a familiar sight in various coastal regions. One thing the common gull is particularly famous for is the unique "laugh cry" sound it projects. Possessing the ability of vocalizing sounds of various pitch and pronunciation, it has distinctive cries.

In terms of their appearance, the appearance of this species changes as fledglings approach maturity. Young birds exhibit scaly black-brown upperparts and a distinct wing pattern, while their legs are pink and transition to a greyish shade in their second year before turning yellow. As they mature, the head and belly transform into pristine white, adorned with fine streaks. By the first winter, they showcase a delightful blend of white and greyish feathers on their saddle.

During my trip to Nantucket during summer vocation, I was fascinated by these creatures. As someone growing up in Beijing, an inland city surrounded by mountains and grasslands, it was actually my first time to see a common gull! However, the novelty soon wore off as I discovered that they were literally EVERYWHERE. And I wondered why.

Their prevalence can be attributed to their wide diet range. When it comes to food, they're the ultimate foodies of the coast. From seafood delights like fish and mollusks to land-based treats like insects, crustaceans, and even the occasional human-provided snack near fishing docks, these gulls are gourmet scavengers. Their ability to adapt to various culinary options contributes to their prevalence.

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