Plankton Feeding Gulls

If you are near the shoreline, like I was this weekend, you may be treated to a spectacular sight of thousands of gulls in a feeding frenzy, some close to shore.  There has been a lot of discussion about this phenomenon on the Connecticut Ornithological Association’s excellent website (found at www.ctbirding.org ).  There is some debate about what organisms are contained in this bloom of plankton the gulls are feeding on.  It may be barnacle larvae or even slipper shell larvae.  Whatever it is, it spreads over the water in a brown wash and must taste delicious to the gulls, for they appear from many observers accounts, to follow the plankton blooms up and down the shoreline.  We saw an estimated 13,000 gulls off Sherwood Island State Park in Connecticut, a mixture of ring-billed gulls, herring gulls and great black-backed gulls with a few Bonaparte’s gulls.  There may be a relationship to the full moon although this year, the feeding behavior I witnessed doesn’t seem to have been tied to that.  Interesting to see, if you have a chance.

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1 Response so far »

  1. 1

    L.Morgens said,

    Very interesting, we have witnessed this in front of the house but thought it was bloodworms. We have seen the brown wash. Good description

    Like


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