Friday, July 27, 2012

western gull ~ 07/27/12 ~ at home

western gull fledgling
Larus occidentalis

Ever since we got back from our road trip in early July, we knew we had a gull nest on our roof from all the calls that echoed down our kitchen vent and evening stomping on the ceiling that sounded like a production of Lord of the Dance. This is the second year in a row we've had a nest, and I worry it won't be the last. It's not well publicized online, but western gulls here have taken to nesting on rooftops in addition to their typical rocky island breeding spots.

We woke in the middle of Tuesday night from such a ruckus of screeching and trampling that we wondered if a raccoon had managed to get on the roof and attack the nest. The next morning, I had to shoo 3 fledglings out of the driveway while 2 adults cried and looked down at me from the roof. Western gull fledglings are not the swiftest at moving out of the way of moving cars. Lighthouse Avenue through New Monterey (a business district just up from the infamous Cannery Row and is one of only 2 publicly available roads out of Pacific Grove) is frequently littered this time of year with flattened fledglings. It fascinates me that drivers will patiently stop for a family of Canada geese crossing the road but will not even slow down for young gulls wandering aimlessly around.

Fluffy feathers rained down from the roof for a couple days like some sort of pillow fight had occurred while the 3 fledglings stayed at the end of our driveway. One of them could barely stand up, let alone fly.  Maybe it broke its leg from the fall?  The one shown above was testing its wings out and had awkwardly managed to perch in our oak tree and then to the Douglas-fir. One of the parents watched from the roof and called out as if in encouragement. Shortly after I took these pictures, this young gull crashed through the branches to the ground.