Scavenging gulls on SEANET beaches

10 11 2008

This report comes to us from Jenette Kerr (WB_36) on Cape Cod:

Common eider at the water's edge.

Common eider carcass

“The only dead bird I discovered today had been washed in on the tide and was being nibbled on by a young gull at water’s edge. My first thought was to leave the gull to eat in peace but since this was my only dead bird of the day, I wanted to document it. Because the carcass was partially submerged and quite chewed up I declined to haul it in to shore for measurements. I also didn’t want to make the young gull think I was going to take this tidbit home for myself. So I just took a couple of pictures. (Picture 2) is of the gull who clearly was a bit put out that I interrupted his snack.”

Forlorn gull missing his lunch

Forlorn gull missing his lunch

We are interested in knowing more about the phenomenon of carcass scavenging out there on SEANET beaches. If you catch someone in the act of scavenging, please snap a picture (or multiple pics) of the culprit and send it to us with your best guess as to the species doing the scavenging. Dr. Julie Ellis is particularly interested in whether it’s Great Black-Backed Gulls or Herring Gulls doing most of the carcass mangling out there.

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One response

4 12 2008
Dennis Minsky

Re scavenging gulls: Working for Cape Cod National Seashore last season (on Piping Plovers) I spent many hours on the Backshore beaches. While I observed both Herring and Great Black Backed Gulls (and Glaucous too, early in the season) scavenging dead seals and fish, Black Backs were much more often seen scavenging birds. I have also observed Black Backs preying on newly fledged pigeons at MacMillan Wharf.

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