Dow's Bird Photos

February 14, 2020

Two years ago I photographed a Glaucous-winged Gull standing on the roof of our garden shed, in the snow, waiting for me to hang the seed and suet feeders on a pole and toss out some sunflower seeds and chicken scratch, all for the yardbirds. The gull had recently figured out the daily feeding schedule and started showing up early. It would stand or sit on the shed roof and wait.


Glaucous-winged Gull

Glaucous-winged Gull, Dungeness, WA. 2/18/2018


As soon as I went back inside the gull would fly down and eat some of the seeds. I could chase it off a dozen times and it would just wait a bit and come back. Eventually, though, the gull gave up and didn't come back for many months.


Glaucous-winged Gull

Glaucous-winged Gull, Dungeness, WA. 2/18/2018


Later that fall I started throwing out half a dozen peanuts in the shell trying to attract a Steller's Jay that sometimes flew over the yard. The jay did stop a couple times and grabbed a peanut, but rarely came back.


Steller's Jay

Steller's Jay, Dungeness, WA. 10/1/2018


However, very soon a couple of American Crows discovered the peanuts and began showing up every morning to look for them. I began hiding them in the driftwood pieces to make them work for their breakfast. They always found every one of the peanuts. This quickly became a regular morning entertainment for us.


American Crow

American Crow, Dungeness, WA. 2/20/2019


It didn't take long, though, for a couple of gulls to notice what the crows were doing and start trying to horn in on the peanut hunt. The gulls started showing up earlier than the crows and patiently waited for me to come out with the peanuts, which they quickly gobbled up, swallowing them whole. So the crows would show up and not get any peanuts.


Glaucous-winged Gull

Glaucous-winged Gull, Dungeness, WA. 2/19/2019


I've nothing against the gulls, personally, but a single gull can find and eat all 6-8 peanuts in about 30 seconds, which is not nearly as entertaining as watching the crows. So I really wanted to discourage the gulls. They are very persistent, though, as I quickly discovered.

During the first big snow when I went out and tossed seed and peanuts on the ground 15-20 gulls descended on me, seemingly out of nowhere. They didn't even wait for me to finish throwing out the seed. I was flailing my arms and yelling at them and they still landed. I finally grabbed my leaf blower and chased them away with it. I had to repeat that a couple times though, until finally it was just the two resident gulls.

The next day I decided to put the peanuts in an old suet feeder and stake it to the ground. I figured the holes in the feeder were too small for the gull to get its beak into so the peanuts would be safe for the crows, who, being smarter, would figure out a way to extract the peanuts. I hadn't even gotten back inside before one of the two resident gulls was picking peanuts out. I took some video, then decided to try another plan to thwart the gull.

I hung the small suet feeder with peanuts in it from the largeer suet feeder that contained suet. The gulls and crows can't get into that feeder. I put a piece of cardboard in the bottom of the small suet feeder so the peanuts wouldn't fall out. A few minutes later the gull was back walking around under the feeder looking up. It didn't take long before it flew up and grabbed a peanut and dropped back to the ground and swallowed it. Three minutes later it had taken all but one peanut.

The next morning I didn't put any peanuts out. But the gull came back and walked around the feeder pole several times looking up for the peanuts that were there yesterday. There is no question in my mind that this gull has a good memory. I took more video. It flew up several times and looked into the suet feeder and seemed perplexed that there were no peanuts. It finally gave up.

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Bird of the Day


Gull Gets the Peanuts

February 19, 2019


Glaucous-winged Gull gets the peanut

Glaucous-winged Gull gets the peanut; Dungeness, WA. 2/19/2019



Glaucous-winged Gull gets the peanut

Glaucous-winged Gull gets the peanut; Dungeness, WA. 2/19/2019



Glaucous-winged Gull gets the peanut

Glaucous-winged Gull gets the peanut; Dungeness, WA. 2/19/2019



Glaucous-winged Gull gets the peanut

Glaucous-winged Gull gets the peanut; Dungeness, WA. 2/19/2019



Glaucous-winged Gull gets the peanut

Glaucous-winged Gull gets the peanut; Dungeness, WA. 2/19/2019