May 312017
 

I had to let you know. When I pulled into camp on Saturday, guess who came in for a visit?……Stanley! A few battle scars around his face but otherwise he looks great. The other campers remarked that the gulls have not returned to our part of the lake yet, but here he is! When I threw him his favourite treat he let out a squeal …..I hope of delight.

Barb Evett, Woodland Campsite, Lakehurst

Stanley, May 2017 – Barb Evett

Nov 202016
 

In early October, we had a large flock of about 50 ducks that we fed on our shoreline in the hopes of giving them a safe haven away from the hunters.  The flock was joined by a lone Ring-billed Gull.  The gull ate the corn we spread – right in the middle of the ducks – and they seemed not to mind at all.  When it ws done with the corn it went up under our bird feeder and waited there patiently looking around for the Blue Jays to come to feed and drop a peanut or two onto the ground for him/her to snatch up !  The gull actually looked for the Blue Jays and made its way over to the feeder as soon as the jays arrived.
The bird seemed to be in perfect health, but it never ventured far from the yard except to sit on the end of our raised dock and mostly it stayed close to the ducks and the tidbits the Blue Jays dropped to the ground.  It was the only gull we saw on our end of the lake at the time.  Not sure if this is “normal” behaviour or not but we quite enjoyed watching the show.  Even if this isn’t unusual, it is new to us……and the good news is that the gull doesn’t make any noise at all…no squawking.

Nancy Cafik, Chemong Lake

Note: As of November 20, the gull was still hanging around with the ducks.  DM

Stanley, the Ring-billed Gull - Barb Evett

Ring-billed Gull – Barb Evett

Nov 172016
 

Thought I would forward these photos to you. The first photo was taken of Stanley, “my” tame Ring-billed Gull, in July. The obvious red eyes and red gape. His head is pure white.

The second photo was taken Aug 15. I had noticed his red colouring was fading and he was developing pin feathers of a darker colour on his head.

The third photo was taken of Stanley Aug 30th. Although the eye still has some red it is more subdued. When his beak is closed, the gape is not red. Note the new feathering coming in on his head and shoulders – which I thought indicates a young premature gull. I did not know the adult changed so much over the summer.

Barb Evett

Ring-billed-Gull-in-July-with-red-eyes-and-red-gape -Barb-Evett

Ring-billed Gull in July with red eyes and red gape – Barb Evett

Ring-billed-Gull-in-August-15 -Barb-Evett

Ring-billed Gull on August 15 -Barb Evett

Ring-billed-Gull-August-30-gape-is-no-longer-red-note-new-dark-feathers-on-head-Barb-Evett

Ring-billed Gull – August 30 – Gape is no longer red. Note new dark feathers on head -Barb Evett

Oct 092016
 

I am looking for your opinion on some bird behaviour in our yard that we are finding quite amusing.  We have a large flock of ducks that we feed on our shoreline in the hopes of giving them a safe haven away from the hunters !!  There are about 50 ducks now and the flock has been joined a couple weeks ago by a lone Ring-billed Gull.  The gull eats the corn we spread right in the middle of the ducks and the ducks seem not to mind at all.  When it is done with the corn it comes up under our bird feeder and waits there patiently looking around for the Blue Jays to come to feed and drop a peanut or two or three onto the ground for him/her to snatch up !  The gull actually looks for the Blue Jays and makes its way over to under the feeder as soon as the jays arrive.
The gull seems to be in perfect health…..looks great, can fly and can swim.  But it never ventures far from the yard except to sit on the end of our raised dock and mostly it stays close to the ducks and the tidbits the Blue Jays drop to the ground.  It is the only gull we have seen on our end of the lake in a couple of weeks.  Not sure if this is “normal” behaviour or not but we quite enjoy watching the show.  Even if this isn’t unusual, it is new to us……and the good news is that the gull doesn’t make any noise at all…no squawking  !! Any insight or is this just an example of Mother Nature getting along ??  Nancy Cafik

NOTE: I forwarded Nancy’s question to a local naturalist, Barb Evett, who has first-hand experience with Ring-billed Gulls. Here is Barb’s response:

Hi Nancy,

I don’t know you but I like you already. Most people wouldn’t give a gull a second thought. I loved your story and observation – most people would not pick up on that behaviour. To put your mind at rest I believe your gull is well and enjoying itself. The intelligence of crows has been well documented…..I believe that many other bird species also share a degree of intelligence as well.

Your gull has found a source of food – your yard. I have a gull at camp who “found” my campsite 3 years ago and has been a regular ever since. During the summer when gulls abound he sits at my site, sometimes on my deck, waiting for the food to come out. If I go for a walk, “Stanley” trails behind me like a puppy dog knowing I will eventually get him something to eat. He has become the source of amusement with the other campers.

Stanley, the Ring-billed Gull - Barb Evett

Stanley, the Ring-billed Gull – Barb Evett

I noticed the gulls absent from our area of the lake at this time of year- but flocking in great numbers in farmers fields. My gull, however, comes back to the lake to sit on his favourite stump and watch my site. Within minutes of my arriving back at camp he flies in and waits for food. I love my gull.

I have noticed that gulls vocalize only to communicate with other gulls. My gull will only cry out to warn other gulls away from my site – otherwise he is silent.

So your gull knows you feed the ducks and he knows the Jays drop peanuts on the ground – smart cookie. You may find he becomes a regular visitor… and will warn off other gull intruders.

This time of year, around supper time, my gull flies off, I would assume, to join the other gulls in the plowed fields for the night. I imagine yours disappears overnight as well.

So your observation demonstrates a healthy (and happy) gull. He just has the inside on a great place to eat.

And thank you for providing the ducks with a safe haven. You sound like a great person!

Mother Nature has many tales to tell when we take the time to stop and observe! Right on, Nancy!

Regards,

Barb Evett

Jul 072016
 

Cannot believe it! For 3 years in a row, Stanley, my campsite Ring-billed Gull has returned. He comes when called by name, sits with me on my deck when I read a book, and allows no other gulls on my site. Aerial combats are sometime breathtaking. And remember the fishing tale I told you last year? He sure is a one of a kind!!

Took this picture of him (?) on June 21. How close up do you dare to get!  Note the red eyes. The red disappears during the summer, along with the red colour at the corners of the mouth (gape).

Barb Evett, Woodland Campsite, Lakehurst, ON

Note: See July 6, 2015 for the amazing fishing tale that involves Stanley.

Stanley, the Ring-billed Gull - Barb Evett

Stanley, the Ring-billed Gull – Barb Evett

Close-up of Ring-billed Gull nicknamed Stanley - note red on eyes, beak - June 2016 - Barb Evett

Close-up of Ring-billed Gull nicknamed Stanley – note red on eyes, beak – June 2016 – Barb Evett

Jul 062015
 

For the past two years a handsome Ring-billed Gull that I call Stanley  has visited my campsite for the odd treat. He appeared one day when he saw the crows feeding at my site, and he has been a regular visitor since. He warns other gulls off, and every time I call his name, he fluffs up and shakes.

This past Thursday, my daughter Cathy and I were at camp preparing to go fishing. Stanley had flown in earlier onto my neighbour’s boat cover (sorry, Sean) waiting for his treat. I put a treat out for him and the local crows. As Cathy rowed us away from camp, I saw Stanley, wings out, chasing the crows from the food.

We have to row a narrow channel between lily pads and reeds to reach the bay. As we rowed down the bay, deciding on a good spot to cast our lines, I noticed Stanley flying away from my camp along the path we had taken out of the reeds. As soon as he saw us he turned toward us and started circling our boat. I used my regular greeting to him, “Stanley, is that you?”. He looked right at me and continued circling. He was behind me when Cathy asked “What’s he doing?”. I turned to see Stanley making tight circles just above the water, not far from us, near a submerged stump. Suddenly a large fish jumped out of the water where Stanley was circling.

Excitedly, I grabbed my pole and cast towards the spot. First cast fell short. Cast again…..spot on. The fish took it! After a short battle with a strong fish (so exciting!), we managed to land a Large-mouthed Bass … 18 inches. After picture taking was done, we safely released this beauty to swim another day.

When it was all over, Stanley had gone. I looked at Cathy and said “Do you believe what just happened? Stanley showed us where the fish was! Unbelievable!”. That was the only fish we caught that day. Needless to say, when Stanley returned to camp at supper time, he got a special treat!

Who needs expensive fish finders to locate the fish…..just befriend a gull and then pay attention! LOL!

Barb Evett

Stanley, the Ring-billed Gull - Barb Evett

Stanley, the Ring-billed Gull – Barb Evett