Hard to Swallow


This week’s photo, taken February 10, 2013 in Seattle, WA, features a GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULL with a situation – a mouth full of starfish. To learn how this savory saga ends, read on.

Late Sunday morning, Laura and I walk the water front of Puget Sound through Myrtle Edwards Park near downtown Seattle. Many water birds float near the shore, including 100+ SURF SCOTERS, a PIGEON GUILLEMOT, a PELAGIC CORMORANT, and a life bird for both of us: a BLACK SCOTER.

By far the most memorable bird of the day is a GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULL that is standing still on a rock at the water’s edge. Gulls are known for eating just about anything, but this one may have made an unwise selection for Sunday brunch. We decide to sit and watch and wait, as this dining dilemma develops. For 10 long, agonizing minutes the gull does not move, other than an occasional slow head turn and 2 or 3 unsuccessful attempts to swallow the starfish. As time passes, we fear that this will end badly for the bird. But when 2 other gulls fly by and see an opportunity, they quickly drop out of the sky, hoping to steal a meal. The threat of losing its oversized snack turns out to be just the incentive that the hapless gull needs. As the other gulls close in, it finally musters the strength to guzzle the 5-armed sea creature down its throat. Although the incident ends poorly for the starfish, the gull lives another day, perhaps to think about (or chew over) its questionable food choices.


About Joe Sweeney

I photograph birds to share the beauty and wonder I find in nature.
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One Response to Hard to Swallow

  1. Andree Dalschaert says:


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