Despite their feisty, clamorous nature, gulls are among my favorite birds. Perhaps it’s because they conjure up memories of my days in Michigan’s U.P., or maybe it’s because they make me think of almost every vacation I’ve ever had. Did you know that sea gulls are present on every continent, even the fringes of Antarctica, and the Arctic Sea? Though gulls are most common along coastal areas, “grey gulls” lives in deserts! Sea gulls have some unique features that make them extremely adaptable. To name a few: Gulls are pretty unique in that they can drink both fresh and salt water because God designed them with a special pair of glands above their eyes that flush the salt out through openings in their bills. They are more adept at walking on land than other sea birds. They have unhinging jaws so they can consume large prey. Like the Marines, gulls are accomplished at survival by air, land, or sea. They are ingenious omnivores, teaching their young to drop shellfish onto rocks in order to break them, to stir up water with their webbed feet to attract fish to the surface, and they’ve even been seen stamping the ground in large numbers to trick earthworms into coming to the surface to check out the weather forecast. Gulls have even been observed using bits of bread for bait to catch gold fish! Furthermore, they’re not a bit proud, dining with gusto at garbage dumps, mud flats, or posh ocean-front homes, and they’re equal-opportunistic eaters, feasting as readily on fish guts from a fishing boat as on grubs from a plowed field. Of course, they are huge fans of being hand-fed by lovely ladies, but as you probably know from experience, if you invite them to dine with you, they’ll take right over as soon as you’re not looking! The most common gulls in North America are herring gulls; these are the birds you see waiting patiently at boat docks from Mackinac Island in the chilly North…all the way down to Disney World in the balmy South. Gulls mate for life, breed in colonies, and are ostracized (sometimes for years) if they divorce! They are very long-lived for shore birds, too, the oldest on record living 49 years. (So, like people, they should choose their mates with care!) Gulls bond as pairs by working together at building their nests (usually on the ground), brooding (usually 3 eggs), and caring for their young (usually with the male doing the lioness’s share of the hunting and gathering and the female doing the lioness’s share of the brooding and guarding). Have you ever wondered if the speckled gulls were country cousins? Actually, they’re just junior members of the company. Young gulls take 4 years to mature, and their plumage signals their age: Juveniles are mottled brown; in their second year, the gulls are brown with grey appearing on their backs; in their third year, gulls have grey backs and more white on their heads and underparts, and by their fourth year, gulls receive their quintessential look: white plumage with a grey mantle and striking, black wing tips. According to American Indian lore, seagulls represent versatility, freedom, and a carefree attitude…all great qualities! No wonder they’re among my favorite birds. 🙂 “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God, and the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).