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The Gull versus the Sweetgum Ball

March 11, 2010

One of the cool things about big flocks of gulls, like the one I can across this past weekend, is the opportunity to see a wide variety of behaviors.  Gulls, being gregarious and intelligent, are nearly always good for something interesting.  It may have something to do with the arrogant way in which they seem to believe that any even marginally edible item is their’s for the taking.  Take, for instance, this incident I had with an ambitious Ring-billed Gull this past weekend who had managed to snatch the one thing that a gull’s swiss army knife bill is probably unable to crack, a sweetgum ball.

Scene 1: The gull proudly marches into the flock, displaying its find.  I wonder, then, if a part of it wondered why none of his colleagues seemed excited at this find.  The arrival of anything with the appearance of food would likely instigate a storm of feathers and fury, but this?  Nothing.  How odd…

Scene 2: Initial attempts to get to the goodness within have proven fruitless.  The gull then walks to the edge of the lake to dunk the gumball in an apparent attempt to soften it, thus making the insides more easily accessible.

Scene 3: This dunking technique does not appear to be successful.  The Sweetgum ball continues to vex our intrepid hero. The other gulls could not be less interested.

Scene 4: The finale.  After several minutes of failed dunking, the gull finally admits defeat.  How can something that looks so tempting fail to give up its secrets?  This gull cannot understand, and the Sweetgum ball is left on the beach, effectively ignored by all.

Gulls are certainly full of surprises.

  1. March 11, 2010 8:52 am

    I wonder if the gull would have any better luck with a gumball?

  2. Nate permalink*
    March 11, 2010 9:40 am

    mmmm…sweet gumball

  3. March 11, 2010 4:08 pm

    I don’t normally see gulls so easily defeated.

  4. March 12, 2010 12:54 pm

    That is just too funny. I expected it to turn into a session of play-cum-learn: the fly up with something, drop it, dive for it, then repeat. How interesting that it seemed intent on cracking the ball for a meal. Great observational catch!

  5. Kim permalink
    March 16, 2010 7:05 pm

    Nice narration! Maybe I’m anthropomorphizing , but that gull really does look proud in scene 1 and annoyed in scene 2. Awesome.

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