[birding] gulls

DAVID IRONS llsdirons at msn.com
Thu Feb 28 08:28:05 PST 2008


The majority of the gulls in fields around Eugene are usually Ring-billed and Mew Gulls, the two smallest species that winter commonly in the southern Willamette Valley.  Both of these species like wet fields and pastures.  When I seen them catching food it seems to be mostly worms.   Over time, much of the southern Willamette Valley has been converted over to fields where grass seed is grown.  Historically, it was wet prairie with lots of seasonal standing water.  The combination of short grass and seasonal standing water creates that seems very much to the liking of both species.  Over time numbers of both species, particularly Mew Gulls, have grown steadily.  I remember birding around Eugene in the early 1980's and at that time Mew Gulls were found in far fewer numbers than they are today.  Benton Co. remains fairly "gull-challenged," but in recent years gulls seem to be on the increase there as well.

Mew Gull numbers seem to spike in the valley immediately after storms hit the outer coast, whereas Ring-billed numbers tend to more consistent throughout the winter.  Ring-billed Gulls can be somewhat hard to find along the outer coast during winter, while Mew Gulls are usually abundant in muddy estuaries (like Yaquina Bay) and coastal dairy pastures (like those in Tillamook Co.).

These are just my impressions of what has happened over the last three decades, surely others might provide a little different take.

Dave Irons
Eugene, OR

From: kathy at fiznet.com
To: list at midvalleybirding.org
Date: Thu, 28 Feb 2008 08:08:55 -0800
Subject: [birding] gulls

Having been in this area for ever…I
want to ask the experts, why do we have so many gulls in the fields? As a kid,
I never remember seeing “sea gulls” in the valley except maybe
around the dump. There was a very large flock of gulls, in a field just north
of Eugene, last weekend. I couldn’t tell you what kind, but they looked
rather small.

Also a large number of Tundra Swans in the
same area. 






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