ARTISTS AND BIRDS

"Faraway Places - Part 2"

Franklin’s Gull

Franklin's gull       Most Seagulls are birds of water, oceans, and seashores. Franklin’s Gulls are birds of the American prairies, eating midges, grasshoppers, and grubs. They are often found in plowed agriculture fields hunting for earthworms. They do not swipe food or gobble chicks of any sort like many other gulls. Rarely will you ever find Franklin’s Gulls scavenging at dumps. This Seagull has the nickname of “prairie dove,” for it breeds in the wet parts of the prairie and flies like a dove. This gull is as close to a landlubber as it gets.

       Franklin’s Gulls nest by the thousands. Each breeding pair builds a nest on cattails and bulrushes surrounded by shallow water. It’s in the large marshes where the chicks are safe until they are able to fly. It’s the webbed feet that make them good swimmers. After breeding in Canada’s Prairie Provinces,  Montana, the Dakotas, and Minnesota, they migrate through North America, Mexico, and south to the shores of Peru and Chile. They migrate much farther than most
gull species.

       Think . . . South America, with its majestic mountains, ancient ruins, with its many cultures and  foods. Think . . . Franklin’s Gull! This is another great excuse to travel to faraway places, along the Pacific Ocean, looking for this exceptional bird. After tiring of the hotels, the food, and the majestic view of the Pacific Ocean, you could take your binoculars out of your suitcase and go to the birding areas to justify the expense of this long trip.

       In the breeding months, Franklin’s Gull will don a gray back and wings, a white neck and underparts, a full black hood, white eye rings, and a red bill, legs, and feet. His winter costume comes with a smaller black hood placed on the back of the head and a black bill.

       Now that you know what one looks like, and if you are wanting to see Chile or Peru, tell your spouse you’ve got to have Franklin’s Gull on your bird “life list.” (This is a great reason to travel to those faraway places.)

       Brenda Rusnell is our Franklin’s Gull artist, drawn with color pencils. Brenda will be teaching beginning and advanced art classes for ICL this fall.

       The Red Cliffs Audubon Opening Social Potluck Dinner will be Wednesday, September 14, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. at the Tonaquint Nature Center. The main dish and drinks will be furnished by the Chapter. You are invited to bring a side dish or a dessert. Come meet new friends and learn about the upcoming monthly Presentations and Field Trips. For more information call 435 673-0996. The public is welcome.