This week’s photo, taken March 1, 2014 at Discovery Park in Seattle, WA, features a GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULL behaving like a fox.
Perhaps you have watched an entertaining video of a fox hunting in extreme winter conditions. When it hears a rodent scurrying beneath the layer of snow, the fox leaps upward like a springboard diver and then plummets head-first into the snow.
On Saturday at Discovery Park, a GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULL’S approach appeared remarkably similar, although a few details were different. The gull was hunting on water, not snow; it was locating its prey not by sound, but by sight; and it wasn’t pursuing mice (unless rodents wear scuba tanks and weighted waist belts). Do mice even have waists? Probably not.
The photo above doesn’t tell the whole story. The gull did not plunge into the water from high in the sky. Instead, it sat on the water and intently scanned below the surface. When it spotted a morsel of interest, it rocketed up a few feet, propelled by an explosive flapping of wings, and then it abruptly altered its flight path, tucked its wings and dove headfirst into the water. It’s a good thing it never gained any significant height because the water was quite shallow, and the gull wasn’t wearing a helmet.
The seabird’s fox-like behavior seemed to work well. Many times the gull performed its “springboard dive,” and several times it surfaced with a tidbit in its bill.