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Young Seagull In Flight | Montauk Point, New York

© Sophie W. Smith

Joined October 2012

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Artist's Description

In addition to taking a wide range prey, gulls display great versatility in how they obtain prey. Prey can be obtained in the air, on water, or on land. In the air, a number of hooded species are able to hawk insects on the wing; larger species perform this feat more rarely. Gulls on the wing also snatch items both off water and off the ground, and over water they also plunge-dive to catch prey. Again, smaller species are more manoeuvrable and better able to hover-dip fish from the air. Dipping is also common when birds are sitting on the water, and gulls may swim in tight circles or foot paddle to bring marine invertebrates up to the surface. Food is also obtained by searching the ground, often on the shore among sand, mud or rocks. Larger gulls tend to do more feeding in this way. In shallow water gulls may also engage in foot paddling. A method of obtaining prey unique to gulls involves dropping heavy shells of clams and mussels onto hard surfaces. Gulls may fly some distance to find a suitable surface on which to drop shells, and apparently a learned component to the task exists, as older birds are more successful than younger ones. While overall feeding success is a function of age, the diversity in both prey and feeding methods is not. The time taken to learn foraging skills may explain the delayed maturation in gulls. Read more

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