There are a number of reasons why I decided to take on this project. My first reason has to do with my interest in birds. This began shortly after moving to Victoria ten and a half years ago. With our house backing onto a wooded area, the chirping of birds is a familiar sound all year long. I often glance out the window to see birds of all forms in the yard throughout the day. Frequently I will pull out the Birds of Victoria or Birds of North America reference guides we have on hand. Unfortunately, the drawings in the first aren’t overly helpful for identification and the number of entries in the second is overwhelming. My second reason has to do with a photography course I took a number of years ago. Since that time I have been trying to think of a practical reason to buy a new camera. Taking pictures of birds requires a powerful zoom lens which my previous point-and-shoot camera could not accommodate. Perfect! My final reason was my desire to take on a new project to welcome in 2011. Hence, bird of the day was born.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Herring Gull

Larus argentatus

Large gull
White head and underparts
Light gray back
White spots in black wingtips
Pale eyes (yellow iris)
Pink legs
Heavy, yellow bill with red spot near tip
Winter plumage:  Blurry grayish-brown streaking on head and neck
All brown at first with black bill
Reaches adult plumage in fourth winter

Listen to its call.

I've never really given much thought to these birds before. A gull is a gull, right? Actually, no, it's not. In fact, I've discovered that it is one of the more difficult birds to identify. There are a number of different types of gulls found in Victoria, many of them varying only slightly. Without viewing them side-by-side, it is hard to tell whether one gull is smaller than the next or has a narrower bill. And don't even get me started on the immature gulls. They go through so many metamorphoses it is impossible to tell whether two gulls are the same kind even when they are standing next to each other.  So, I've tried to avoid tackling gulls until now. I started with this bird because, with its black wing-tips, light gray back and pale eye, it seemed like one of the easier ones to identify. I hope I'm not being too optimistic. If, however, I have made an error, please let me know. After all, "mistakes are the portal of discovery" (James Joyce).

Learn more about the Herring Gull.

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