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The Music of Herring Gulls

An unforgettable voice
© Pam Parsons View Large

For some of us, it’s hard to get excited about gulls. But they are just as fascinating – and have as much to tell us – as other birds. Take the Herring Gull, for example. Its appearance is striking, and its voice is unforgettable. Along the Atlantic coast of North America, the nesting population of Herring Gulls numbers in the hundreds of thousands. But as recently as 1900, feather and egg hunters had wiped out virtually all nesting Herring Gulls south of Maine. Fortunately, conservation laws have enabled the gulls to recover. 

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Transcript: 

BirdNote®

The Music of Herring Gulls

Written by Bob Sundstrom

This is BirdNote.

[Herring Gull calls]

Ah, the sweet music of gulls. [Comical series of Herring Gull sounds]

Okay, we have to admit it. For some of us, it’s just hard to get excited about gulls. [Continue sounds of Herring Gulls].

But in their own way, gulls are as fascinating – and have as much to tell us – as other birds.

Take the Herring Gull, for example. [Flock of Herring Gulls calling with surf sound] Along the Atlantic coast of North America, the nesting population of Herring Gulls numbers in the hundreds of thousands. Abundant yes, and striking in appearance. Adults have pale gray backs and wings, pink legs and wingtips neatly tipped in black.  They stare back at you with piercing, pale yellow eyes.

We take their abundance for granted. But as recently as 1900, feather and egg hunters had wiped out virtually all nesting Herring Gulls south of Maine, where only about 8,000 pairs remained.

Conservation laws have enabled the gulls to recover. But even now, Herring Gulls remain vulnerable to ecological damage and changes. Overfishing and closure of landfills reduces food supply. And because they are at the top of the aquatic food chain, their diet concentrates chemical pollutants such as dioxins.

So the next time you see a Herring Gull, take a careful look. And listen to that unforgettable voice. [Comical series of Herring Gull sounds]

###
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Calls of Herring Gulls [3295] recorded by A. Brand; Herring Gull vocalizations [22394] recorded by W.E. Davis; flock of Herring Gulls [133311] recorded by M. Fischer.
Waves/surf Nature SFX Essentials #23 recorded by Gordon Hempton of QuietPlanet.com.
BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2014 Tune In to Nature.org    February 2017/2019   Narrator:  Mary McCann
ID HERG-01-2014-02-05     HERG-01

[Herring Gull conservation issues at: http://birds.audubon.org/species/hergul, and http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/speciesfactsheet.php?id=3227 ]

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