When is a Seagull Not?

For most of my life I’ve referred to gulls as “seagulls.” After my recent trip to Colorado and New Mexico, I now know why birders insist on referring to them simply as gulls. There seemed to be as many there as there is here in Tacoma.

I loved watching the Ring-Billed Gulls soar in the brilliant skies above Lake Cabello.

Ring-Billed Gull

The main attraction on the lake, though, were the Western Grebes. Although they shied away when I first walked down to the lake, it didn’t take long before they surrounded me. It was the closest I’ve ever gotten to Western Grebes, even closer than I got at Malheur this year. At close range, the bill looked quite formidable,

Western Grebe

and I could actually begin to distinguish one grebe from each other.

Western Grebe

The online guide that I used to find Cabello State Park said it had the highest Christmas Bird Count of any area in the state. I believe it. Though the sheer number of birds didn’t come close to what I saw at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge later in the week, I saw more birds here than I saw anywhere else in New Mexico or Arizona.

The lake also drew songbirds, like this Western Bluebird,

Western Bluebird

this Say’s Phoebe,

 Say's Phoebe

and this White-Crowned Sparrow.

White-Crowned Sparrow.

It took me a little research to discover that this

immature White-Crowned Sparrow

is also a White-Crowned Sparrow, but it’s an immature White-Crowned Sparrow, something I’ve never noticed before.

None of these were “first’s” for me, but most were birds I rarely see so it was a treat seeing them.

3 thoughts on “When is a Seagull Not?”

  1. Why are the birds in your part of the world so much more colourful than ours, Loren?
    As to gulls – I once went to a marvellous talk on gulls – of course i have forgotten it all now but at the time I was fascinated = there are so many.

  2. Keep in mind that I had to drive hundreds of miles to see these birds; so they’re not exactly my birds, they’re Arizona or New Mexico birds. I’ve seen some of them in California or Eastern Washington before.

    It’s really amazing what birds they get in Arizona in Spring and Summer, ones we never see anywhere near the Pacific Northwest.

  3. Agreed- a gull is more than just a “seagull”. Your Ring-billed shot is wonderful, as are the Western/Northwestern North American species you captured on camera. Gives one more opportunity to re-see what we might have missed. Of course, field birding again and again for the “familiar” gives us those new views, as well. As always, thanks for your view.

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