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View Full Version : Why are seagulls seen 100s of miles from ocean?


gluria
04-20-2003, 05:11 PM
My daughter asked me why she sees seagulls 100's of miles from the ocean. I couldn't answer her. Anybody know? Thanks

gluria
04-20-2003, 05:16 PM
I'll answer my own question. I guess gulls are gulls and seagulls are just a name we use for gulls near the ocean. I saw this info in here on my third search. Thanks to whomever posted the info.

Mangetout
04-20-2003, 05:37 PM
There is probably a landfill site nearby; gulls are normall found near water, but they are opportunists and there is a lot of opportunity to eat at landfills.

Mangetout
04-20-2003, 05:57 PM
BTW, welcom to the board and if I may be so bold, I would suggest a more informative choice of thread title next time (you'll attract more and better replies).

bradwalt
04-20-2003, 06:04 PM
Seagulls tend to move inland when there's a storm approaching - it can be used as a weather prediction! Hundreds of miles inland? Where does your daughter live?

DrMatrix
04-20-2003, 06:06 PM
Yeah, it helps to have descriptive titles. I've changed the title.

DrMatrix - GQ Moderator

Ruby
04-20-2003, 06:12 PM
I live in northern Indiana where you can't possibly get more landlocked and we have gulls. I've always thought it was weird, too.

Welcome to the board, gluria. Enjoy your stay with us and say goodbye to the last of your free time. :)

ski
04-20-2003, 06:25 PM
Originally posted by Ruby
I live in northern Indiana where you can't possibly get more landlocked and we have gulls. I've always thought it was weird, too.


In your case, wouldn't the gulls probably come from the several large lakes (like Lake Michigan and Lake Erie) that are pretty close by?

Now, if seagulls were in Colorado, or Wyoming, or Nebraska, or Kansas, that would be interesting, as they are _definitely_ land-locked states far from large bodies of water.

bradwalt
04-20-2003, 06:31 PM
Yes ! The Great Lakes of the USA are natural habitats of what we usually call "Sea Gulls". I don't know of any other kinds of "Gulls". Any ornithologists out there?

BTW: If you throw some Kentucky Fried Chicken bones up in the air high enough, every seagull within 50 miles will soon be hovering over you!

jujuju
04-20-2003, 06:35 PM
i've never seen a seagull (do other gulls look the same?) here in atlanta.... (i've never been to a landfill though....)

Xema
04-20-2003, 06:39 PM
Find a birdwatcher's guide book and check the distribution maps. Many gulls prefer water (not always salt water) but most are occasionally seen far from it. Herring Gulls and Ring-billed Gulls are examples of species common throughout the lower 48.

The_Peyote_Coyote
04-20-2003, 06:43 PM
ruby: I live in Indiana, too, (the Bloomington area) and I've seen gulls in the vicinity of Lake Michigan. I think any of the Great Lakes is close enough in size to a sea to attract gulls.
For that matter, when I lived in North Carolina, I would occasionally see them about 70 miles inland, especially if a bad storm was hitting the coastal region.

RealityChuck
04-20-2003, 08:08 PM
Gulls are scavengers and landfills are a perfect smorgasbord for them. They have been moving inland over the years; if they haven't reached your area, then will eventually.

barbitu8
04-20-2003, 08:23 PM
Not all gulls are scavengers. Herring gulls and ring-billed gulls are, but even those are the two most common you see (because they are scavengers and hang around where people hang around), my bird book (National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America) names 28 gulls found in NA. "Sea gulls" is a misnomer and is not used by birders, as most gulls are not limited to salt water areas. Not even to large bodies of fresh waters, necessarily. Franklin's Gull is found in central Canada, extending into ND, Minn, and a few western US states. (Minn. has a lot of lakes.) The ring-billed gull, which is very common around the beaches, is found as far North in the US as Wisconsin, and also is found in Central Canada. The herring gull, which is even more common and is found frequently around McDonald's, and appears in practically all of the continental US and Canada, except for some states around the Rockies.

Bishamon
04-20-2003, 09:36 PM
Originally posted by ski
Now, if seagulls were in Colorado, or Wyoming,

There are gulls in Wyoming. A bunch seem to hang out just half a block from where I live. I know it's not answering any questions, just mentioning.

Bryan Ekers
04-20-2003, 11:25 PM
There are gulls in Colorado, too.

They come for the skiing.

Zsofia
04-20-2003, 11:46 PM
If you haven't seen them in Atlanta, you haven't been looking hard enough. I reccomend McDonald's and Wal-Mart.

Derleth
04-20-2003, 11:58 PM
There are many seagulls in north-central Montana. I see them around town here all the time, eating whatever refuse they can wrest from the clutches of this arid land.

Polycarp
04-21-2003, 12:09 AM
You might also look up the story of the Mormon Trek to Utah and their first crop there -- which was being eaten by locusts when seagulls decided to eat the locusts instead.

brdrcolle
04-21-2003, 12:24 AM
Some birds can nest on the water, like the kingfisher.

mmmiiikkkeee
04-21-2003, 01:54 AM
So it boils down to confusion about different types of gull and the names given to them. Yes, here in Calgary you can go to Peter's Drive-Inn (right off the TransCanada) and watch franklin's gulls fight over you fries in the parking lot hundreds of miles from anything you'd even call a lake. Then drive out to Vancouver and see gulls that look almost exactly the same and not even be able to spot the difference - I've watched gulls in both areas.

Then again, when I was a kid and went to the river we called any kind of plants growing in the water at all "seaweed"; even though we were just east of the rockies.

everton
04-21-2003, 07:33 AM
Originally posted by brdrcolle
Some birds can nest on the water, like the kingfisher.
I think you're getting mixed up with the ancient Greek/Sicilian legend of the halcyon (which is what they called the kingfisher). The halcyon days were a period of calm and prosperity before the winter solstice when the bird was supposed to incubate its eggs on the surface of the sea.

Kingfishers don't really do that most species nest in holes in the river bank.

The answers given so far about "seagull" being a misnomer are correct. They are only called that because English-speakers originally found them near the sea coasts of Britain, but many species are opportunist feeders and will go wherever the food is. As humans have created large sources of free food far from their original habitat, the gulls have spread inland. I've never seen members of the Laridae called "seagulls" in an ornithologist's guide it's always just "gulls".

BTW, if you ever see gulls' eggs on a menu, you might want to remember where they may have eatn and that the eggs are likely to be full of salmonella.

handy
04-21-2003, 10:22 AM
gluria, some seagulls migrate. Next time find out what kind of gull it is & I can find their migration pattern. Im sure Colibri would be more than happy to write on this too.

TGWATY
04-21-2003, 01:28 PM
Originally posted by ski
Now, if seagulls were in Colorado, or Wyoming, or Nebraska, or Kansas, that would be interesting, We have gulls here in Kansas, too, that live on the lakes. I don't know if they are seagulls though.

everton
04-21-2003, 02:59 PM
Originally posted by TGWATY
I don't know if they are seagulls though.
There's no such thing. How many more times? ;)

urban1a
04-21-2003, 03:01 PM
Originally posted by ski
In your case, wouldn't the gulls probably come from the several large lakes (like Lake Michigan and Lake Erie) that are pretty close by?

Now, if seagulls were in Colorado, or Wyoming, or Nebraska, or Kansas, that would be interesting, as they are _definitely_ land-locked states far from large bodies of water.

We DO have gulls in Colorado, ski. Utah, also, has an interesting legend (?) where a locust invasion was averted by seagulls.

Bob

Ruby
04-21-2003, 07:58 PM
Originally posted by Ruby
I live in northern Indiana where you can't possibly get more landlocked and we have gulls. I've always thought it was weird, too.

Originally posted by ski
In your case, wouldn't the gulls probably come from the several large lakes (like Lake Michigan and Lake Erie) that are pretty close by?

Originally posted by barbitu8
<snip>"Sea gulls" is a misnomer and is not used by birders, as most gulls are not limited to salt water areas.

There you go again. Fighting ignorance. Sheesh.

I've been under the misunderstanding that being a SEAgull had something to do with the sea. duh! :smack: Yes, I'm close enough to Lake Michigan that gulls would likely be around. I'm glad to know the gulls flying around the mall are not just lost!

barbitu8
04-21-2003, 08:12 PM
Originally posted by Ruby
I've been under the misunderstanding that being a SEAgull had something to do with the sea. You SEE how GULLible you've been. This thread will TERN you around.

jack@ss
04-21-2003, 09:26 PM
We've got gulls here in Utah. They live at the landfills. We also have pelicans on the Great Salt Lake and occasionally on Utah Lake. I hear there are pelicans on Jackson Lake at the foot of the Tetons. There's also a single South American flamingo on the Great Salt Lake. He escaped from either the Hogle zoo or Tracy aviary and is called "Pink Floyd".

AskNott
04-21-2003, 10:32 PM
Birds Of Indiana shows gulls, along with pelicans, in the "accidental birds" section. I sail on a lake near Muncie that's only a mile by three miles. In most years, a few gulls live there. I haven't seen a pelican in Indiana, but Great Blue Herons work the river a mile from my house.

barbitu8
04-22-2003, 04:30 PM
"I pity the poor pelican;
Its beak can hold more than its belly can." - Ogden Nash

There are two pelican species found in NA, the brown pelican (which has been the only one in SC, where I live, until recently) and the white pelican (my book calls it the American white pelican). Any gulls in Utah would be the white pelican, which is much more whiter than the brown. In recent years, the white pelican has been moving into the "Lowcountry" and has been sighted just SE of Charleston.

Gulls in Utah can be of several different species, herring, Franklins, ring-billed, and the California gull.

Mangetout
04-22-2003, 05:53 PM
Is 'seagulls' really a such a grievous misnomer? or is it just a generic term? - If I visit the beach and see a variety of white screeching birds, I am likely to call them seagulls; that some anoraked twitcher knows a herring gull from a ring-billed gull and knows that 'some gulls don't actually live near the sea' is pretty much irrelevant to the man in the street. 'Seagull' is not an incorrect term because it isn't trying to be scientifically precise.

I call them ShiteHawks anyway.

Xema
04-22-2003, 06:04 PM
Originally posted by Mangetout
Is 'seagulls' really a such a grievous misnomer?
Grievous -- no. Misleading -- yes. Witness the OP's confusion.

Another good example might be "shore birds." You'll hear birders use this, but there are plenty of example of such that are frequently found far from any shore.

The trouble is that a generic term can useful, even when imprecise. But in this case, the term "gull" seems to work better than "seagull."

TheLoadedDog
04-22-2003, 06:08 PM
Curse you Mangetout! The very last post, and it was my planned shithawks one. :D

manhattan
04-22-2003, 06:40 PM
The ones you see over the bay are called bagels.

everton
04-22-2003, 06:48 PM
Originally posted by barbitu8
"I pity the poor pelican;
Its beak can hold more than its belly can." - Ogden Nash

There are two pelican species found in NA, the brown pelican (which has been the only one in SC, where I live, until recently) and the white pelican (my book calls it the American white pelican). Any gulls in Utah would be the white pelican, which is much more whiter than the brown. In recent years, the white pelican has been moving into the "Lowcountry" and has been sighted just SE of Charleston.

Gulls in Utah can be of several different species, herring, Franklins, ring-billed, and the California gull.
Several errors here:
The correct quote is

A wonderful bird is the Pelican,
His bill can hold more than his belican.
He can take in his beak
Food enough for a week;
But I'm damned if I see how the helican.

It was written by Dixon Lanier Merritt, although it's often falsely attributed to Nash.
A pelican isn't a gull any more than a horse is a cow.
Mangetout: Trust me, you don't need to be an anorak to tell one kind of shitehawk from another.

BTW, in case anyone remembers the '80s band A Flock of Seagulls, I recall an interview with some of their fans waiting outside a concert venue who asked the interviewer what a flock of seagulls was. They were somewhere in the heartland if memory serves but I wasn't really paying attention.

MLS
04-22-2003, 07:12 PM
<nitpick>
I was told by an avid bird-watcher and avian expert that there is no such thing as a "seagull." There are lots of types of gulls, some of which happen to live near the ocean. You will see various types of gulls at the seaside. </nitpick>

barbitu8
04-22-2003, 07:22 PM
Originally posted by everton
Several errors here:
The correct quote is

A wonderful bird is the Pelican,
His bill can hold more than his belican.
He can take in his beak
Food enough for a week;
But I'm damned if I see how the helican.

It was written by Dixon Lanier Merritt, although it's often falsely attributed to Nash.
A pelican isn't a gull any more than a horse is a cow.

I never said a pelican was a gull. I was replying to a prior post.

Edward J Cunningham
04-22-2003, 07:22 PM
My daughter asked me why she sees seagulls 100's of miles from the ocean. I couldn't answer her. Anybody know? Thanks

Because they have to go to the bathroom and they can't find a target to hit?

Eddie

everton
04-22-2003, 07:23 PM
Not so much a nitpick, MLS, as a repetiton of what three or four people have already said. Can't hurt I suppose.

everton
04-22-2003, 07:31 PM
Originally posted by barbitu8
I never said a pelican was a gull. I was replying to a prior post.
My eyes must have been deceiving me in this post then...
Originally posted by barbitu8
There are two pelican species found in NA, the brown pelican (which has been the only one in SC, where I live, until recently) and the white pelican (my book calls it the American white pelican). Any gulls in Utah would be the white pelican, which is much more whiter than the brown.
...or maybe you could've phrased it better? It's easy enough to find references to gulls in Utah just Google "gull utah distribution".

Mangetout
04-22-2003, 07:39 PM
Originally posted by MLS
<nitpick>
I was told by an avid bird-watcher and avian expert that there is no such thing as a "seagull." There are lots of types of gulls, some of which happen to live near the ocean. You will see various types of gulls at the seaside. </nitpick> of course, but nobody outside of anal-retentive birdwatchers is expecting the term 'seagull' to denote a single species.

This is every bit as daft as chemists telling gardeners off for their misuse of the term 'organic'.

barbitu8
04-22-2003, 08:02 PM
That was obviously a typo.

everton
04-22-2003, 08:23 PM
Originally posted by Mangetout
of course, but nobody outside of anal-retentive birdwatchers is expecting the term 'seagull' to denote a single species.

This is every bit as daft as chemists telling gardeners off for their misuse of the term 'organic'.
I don't see where anyone is being told off. The OP has apparently been confused by the use of a misleading colloquialism. Nobody, even an anal-retentive birdwatcher expects the term seagull "to denote a single species" they don't use seagull at all, they use gull.

Jeremiah T Crier
04-07-2014, 02:03 AM
I live in Omaha, Nebraska. Several years ago I thought I saw a few seagulls outside an Old Country Buffet. I told my daughter who lives in California but, she didn't believe they could be seagulls. I saw many seagulls, up close and personal during my visits to the west coast so I know very well what they look like. I kept seeing them through the past few years here but in more places and in greater numbers. A few days ago my youngest daughter here in Omaha sent me a close up pic of a flock of seagulls in the Hy-Vee parking lot where she works. They are here in Omaha, especially near restaurants and some stores.

Little Nemo
04-07-2014, 03:13 AM
Just so you know, this is an eleven year old thread. So don't expect a lot of responses back from the previous posters. You can, however, expect a lot of zombie jokes from the upcoming posters.

cochrane
04-07-2014, 03:21 AM
Seagulls can migrate pretty far inland in 11 years.

Dervorin
04-07-2014, 03:59 AM
Are you suggesting that zombie seagulls migrate?

buddha_david
04-07-2014, 04:09 AM
Are you suggesting that zombie seagulls migrate?
Are they African or European zombies? :D

Interestingly, the California Seagull is the state bird of Utah (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._state_birds); so it must be pretty common for them to migrate inland.

Mangetout
04-07-2014, 04:59 AM
Well, they have that big salt lake in Utah, which is, to all intents and purposes, a sea.

Not that this makes a difference to the question of why or whether gulls belong there.

Bumbershoot
04-07-2014, 06:17 AM
I've seen gulls here in New Mexico- pelicans too. The Rio Grande valley is a migratory flyway leading to the Gulf of Mexico and we get a wide variety of species here.

John DiFool
04-07-2014, 07:35 AM
Good resurrecter user name/post combination.

Colibri
04-07-2014, 10:44 AM
It's for just this reason that ornithologists frown on the use of the term "seagull," in preference to just "gull." Many species of gulls (and terns) inhabit inland areas along freshwater and saltwater lakes and larger rivers and ponds. The Franklin's Gull (http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/franklins_gull/id) of North America breeds on ponds in the northern Great Plains. It's a misconception that gulls only inhabit coastal areas.

Duckster
04-07-2014, 10:55 AM
Just so you know, this is an eleven year old thread. So don't expect a lot of responses back from the previous posters. You can, however, expect a lot of zombie jokes from the upcoming posters.

Are you suggesting some folks are gull-ible?

:D

The Second Stone
04-07-2014, 11:39 AM
Seagulls that violate the naming rules of human beings go where there isn't sea. They fly wherever they please. They are scofflaws. Bad birds. When a human gives and animal a name, it should be required to adhere to the name or be criminally charged and prosecuted. They know they are wrong!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aP3gzee1cps

yabob
04-07-2014, 12:08 PM
It's for just this reason that ornithologists frown on the use of the term "seagull," in preference to just "gull." Many species of gulls (and terns) inhabit inland areas along freshwater and saltwater lakes and larger rivers and ponds. The Franklin's Gull (http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/franklins_gull/id) of North America breeds on ponds in the northern Great Plains. It's a misconception that gulls only inhabit coastal areas.
Yeah, when I was in Denver, we had a bunch of [sea]gulls in our parking lot, leading to a lot of email / local newsgroup chatter about "What are seagulls doing in Denver?". This being the 80s, a lot of jokes concerning a certain new wave band resulted, but my office mate wound up relaying a message from his wife, an ornithologist, who informed us that "seagull" was a misnomer, and there was nothing unusual about gulls being in Denver.

Melchior
04-07-2014, 12:32 PM
Here in Central Ohio there was a big flock of seagulls at the grocery store parking lot about a month ago. Hundreds of them! I have no idea what brought them here. There was no food around, as there was still some snow on the ground.

levdrakon
04-07-2014, 01:00 PM
It's for just this reason that ornithologists frown on the use of the term "seagull," in preference to just "gull." Many species of gulls (and terns) inhabit inland areas along freshwater and saltwater lakes and larger rivers and ponds. The Franklin's Gull (http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/franklins_gull/id) of North America breeds on ponds in the northern Great Plains. It's a misconception that gulls only inhabit coastal areas.
Well, wikipedia refers to them as seabirds, they've got webbed feet and they can drink salt water. I'll defer to your bird expertise, but it seems calling them seagulls is perhaps annoying because it's redundant, not because we find them inland almost everywhere.

jtur88
04-07-2014, 03:58 PM
I haven't read all the replies, but in summary, there is no such thing as a "seagull" in the formal nomenclature of avian taxonomy. Gulls are member of the family Laridae. Most species exhibit a habitat preference near the sea, but for many, any large lake, marsh or river will do. They are reluctant to fly out of sight of land, so do not occur on remote islands, but can travel inland as long as they can find sustenance.

The state bird of Utah is the California Gull, which migrates to the coast only in winter, and is otherwise found from Utah and Colorado up into the Northwest Territories.

barbitu8
04-07-2014, 04:05 PM
I haven't read all the replies, but in summary, there is no such thing as a "seagull" in the formal nomenclature of avian taxonomy. Gulls are member of the family Laridae. Most species exhibit a habitat preference near the sea, but for many, any large lake, marsh or river will do. They are reluctant to fly out of sight of land, so do not occur on remote islands, but can travel inland as long as they can find sustenance.

The state bird of Utah is the California Gull, which migrates to the coast only in winter, and is otherwise found from Utah and Colorado up into the Northwest Territories.

Is that the same gull that rid the land of locusts for the Mormons?

Ethilrist
04-07-2014, 04:14 PM
Is that the same gull that rid the land of locusts for the Mormons?

You're thinking of Saint Urho. (http://www.sainturho.com/)

barbitu8
04-07-2014, 04:18 PM
You're thinking of Saint Urho. (http://www.sainturho.com/)

Gulls also got rid of the locusts for the Mormons in Utah.

Colibri
04-07-2014, 06:19 PM
Is that the same gull that rid the land of locusts for the Mormons?

Yes. You can see from its range map (http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/california_gull/id) that it's another one of the inland gulls, like Franklin's Gull.

Colibri
04-07-2014, 06:25 PM
Well, wikipedia refers to them as seabirds, they've got webbed feet and they can drink salt water. I'll defer to your bird expertise, but it seems calling them seagulls is perhaps annoying because it's redundant, not because we find them inland almost everywhere.

Wikipedia doesn't qualify as an ornithological reference. They are referred to as seagulls colloquially, but as has been said that is a misnomer. There are many, many birds with webbed feet that aren't seabirds. Referring to all gulls as seagulls is like calling all ducks seaducks because some species are found along the coast. And as this thread shows, it's annoying because it gives people the impression that gulls are restricted to coasts, when in fact they are very commonly found inland.

MacdaddyC
04-08-2014, 01:42 PM
Why do seagulls fly over the sea?

Because if they flew over the bay, they'd be bagels!