Teaching the Kids to Forage

//Teaching the Kids to Forage

Teaching the Kids to Forage

Juvenile gulls are as determined to get free food from their parents– as their parents are to wean them from the freebies. I’ve seen many adult gulls swimming or flapping away from their begging youngsters, forcing the juvies to forage on their own. I haven’t often watched a parent gull patiently teach the babies to forage … in this case, luring them toward the meat of a floating salmon carcass.

Juvenile Gull Begging From Parent

Begging - ©ingridtaylar

For the sake of writing convenience, I’ll say the adult was their mother, although I’m not sure. She circled the carcass repeatedly with the pleading youngsters on her tail. She’d then leave them on their own near the salmon, whereupon the two would simply stare at the dead fish without a hint of interest. Back to mom, swimming behind her in submissive poses, wailing some more.

Two Juvenile Gulls Swimming

More Begging - ©ingridtaylar

Mom then climbed onto the nearby tethered log, and reached into the salmon carcass from her perch, showing the young how to get the meat for themselves. They watched, but, disinterested in the salmon, continued to peck at her bill.

Adult Gull Teaching Young to Forage

Look, Kid, Here, Food ... See? - ©ingridtaylar

Gull Parent Teaching Juvenile to Eat

Eating - ©ingridtaylar

Young Gull Begging From Parent

Please - ©ingridtaylar

She finally gave into the cries and regurgitated a crop-full of roe for them. Then, she tried showing them again how to get the salmon meat for themselves by reaching down into the carcass.

Gull Regurgitating Food for Young

Giving In - ©ingridtaylar

Adult Gull Feeding Babies

Feeding, Gull Style - ©ingridtaylar

One of the juveniles, pushed aside from mom by the more aggressive youngster, finally had enough and dipped back into the water. The gull paddled around the salmon which kept moving with the current and, after intense examination of the spot where mom had been pulling up meat, dipped its own beak into the fish.

Gull Eating Dead Salmon

Taking the Plunge - ©ingridtaylar

Juvenile Gull Eating Salmon Carcass

Checking Out the Salmon - ©ingridtaylar

The second young gull, eying from the log above, jumped in and joined the feast. They both eventually gave it a go, feeding on their own with the adult gull watching from a distance.

Two Juvenile Gulls Feeding on Salmon

Seeing the Way - ©ingridtaylar

Juvenile Gulls Feeding on Dead Salmon

Done - ©ingridtaylar

When they were done eating — and off preening in the late sun — the parent gull swooped in one last time and filled herself up on surplus from the floating fish.

Adult Gull Eating Salmon

Kids All Fed - ©ingridtaylar

I’m not 100 percent sure of the species on this adult and juvenile. I thought perhaps Glaucous-winged Gull, but I’m not certain if the coloration of both the adult and the young matches the profile. If you know gulls and can positively ID them, please feel free to post a comment to let me know. After I off-loaded the pics on my Mac, I noticed that one of the juveniles may have been slightly oiled. I do hope it’s mud or some easily-cleaned substance, not a slick oil sheen on the bird’s underside.

These shots were taken on Puget Sound in Seattle, where the Sound meets the ship canal at the Ballard Locks.

By | 2011-08-30T19:27:12+00:00 August 30th, 2011|Animal Behavior, Baby Animals, Birds, Blog, Gulls & Terns, Pacific Northwest|2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Glenn Nevill September 1, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    I think you are right. Glaucous-winged Gull matches best. Wingtips have the white subterminal spots and the wing ends are the same gray as the mantle which is a light gray. The orbital ring looks pink as well.

    Nice story telling too.

    Regards,
    Glenn

  2. Elizabeth September 1, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    What an incredible story and series of shots. THANK YOU for telling us this beautiful tale.

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