Juvenile Glaucous-winged Gulls are taking flight over downtown Seattle. In Chicago, young Ring-billed Gulls are heading for Lake Michigan. And before long, juvenile Herring Gulls will be soaring over the Atlantic Ocean. More and more, some gulls are raising their families in the city. They nest on flat, sunny rooftops that are generally inaccessible to humans. When chicks like this Western Gull fledge, they’re soft brown, and won’t have adult plumage – that flashy white and gray or black crispness – until they’re four years old.
Urban Gulls, Rooftop Nesters
Written by Ellen Blackstone
This is BirdNote!
[Sounds of the city and cries of Glaucous-winged Gulls]
Just about now, juvenile Glaucous-winged Gulls are taking flight over downtown Seattle [continue the Glaucous-winged]. In Chicago, young Ring-billed Gulls are heading for Lake Michigan. [Ring-billed Gull cries] And before long, juvenile Herring Gulls will be soaring over the Atlantic Ocean. [Herring Gull cries] More and more, some gulls are choosing to raise their families in the city. They nest on flat, sunny rooftops that are generally inaccessible to humans, scraping together bits of gravel, debris, and dried vegetation, often next to a wall or a chimney.
[More Glaucous-winged Gulls]
The leopard-spotted baby gulls are up and out of their gravelly nest about two days after they hatch. For five to seven more weeks, they have the run of their private rooftop, oblivious to the rest of the world. They chase each other, flap their wings, make short running flights, and even amuse themselves playing tug-o’-war with sticks. Their parents feed them by regurgitating food into their beaks.
[The chortling of Glaucous-winged Gulls]
Unless you’re fortunate enough to look down on a nest from a higher building, you won’t see these young gulls until they're as big as their parents. When the young fledge, they’re soft brown, and won’t have adult plumage – that flashy white and gray or black crispness – until they’re four years old.
[Cries of Glaucous-winged Gulls taking flight]
See photos of all these birds. Find us on the web at BirdNote.org.
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Glaucous-winged Gull cries [3350-2] recorded by A.A.Allen; cries of Ring-billed Gulls  recorded by G. Bell; cries of Herring Gulls  recorded by R.C.Stein.
Some of the city ambient recorded by Kessler Productions.
BirdNote's theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2013 Tune In to Nature.org June 2013/2019 Narrator: Michael Stein
ID# gull-08-2013-06-17 gull-08