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Theres No Such Thing As A Seagull
I grew up on Long Beach Island, and if you saw a whitish bird on the beach or in the air, you called it a seagull. Recently I learned there is no such thing as a seagull.
Most of the “seagulls” we see in New Jersey are medium to large size birds, primarily gray or white with black markings on the head or wings. Related to terns, they typically have long, shrilly squawking calls, a long bill, and webbed feet. These animals are more appropriately termed seabirds, or gulls, if one is lazy, and they come from the family Laridae. An older name for these birds is mew, originating from the German mowe or the Dutch mage.
The seabirds we see around our shore are ground-nesting carnivores which capture live food or scavenge opportunistically. Ever lost food to one? They are typically coastal or inland species and do not venture far out to sea. Their jaws can be unhinged to assist in consuming large prey, and it usually takes 4-5 years for adult plumage to grow in. The seabirds with the all white heads are the oldest and are known to live in excess of forty years.
The seabirds live in large densely populated colonies laying three to four brown speckled eggs. They are considered inquisitive, resourceful, and intelligent. Seabirds utilize a mob mentality when attacking and are known to coordinate their strikes with distracting harassment. When they capture crabs, they are known to drop them from a large height as a way to kill their prey and break open the shells.
So the next time you see or hear a seabird or mew from the Laridae family, don’t call them a seagull, and cover both your food and your head.
From your “Running Realtor” Andrew Gonzales….
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