"When a Rare One Shows"

Thayer's Gull

        Spring! Don't you love it? The air is full of bird calls, and trees are budding leaves. At one time in my life, Spring brought great anticipation of blossoms, flowers blooming, and leaves from trees giving shade to cool my body from the hot sun rays. But now, since I've come to love birds, I have mixed emotions about Spring. When trees turn green and leaf out, birds become almost invisible. Birds are hidden by the luxurious growth of the warm summers of southern Utah. As birds find mates, catch food, raise their young, and do things birds do, green growth allows only a rare glimpse now and then into their busy lives, even with binoculars.

        Each Fall I look forward to Winter's grip when winds blow, leaves fall, tree branches are bare, and birdlife is exposed. I love the shade from my large trees when it's hot, but Winters in southern Utah, with open branches, sunny skies, and birds in view are hard to beat.

        A rare bird showed up this Winter at Grandpa's Pond in Hurricane. It was a Thayer's Gull. This could be a once in a lifetime, for the Thayer's Gull breeds in the high Arctic of Canada and winters along the northern Pacific Coast. During the breeding season, Thayer's Gulls inhabit the Canadian high Arctic, nesting on rocky coastlines of islands. In winter, they are found around bodies of water near the coast, including estuaries and protected bays. So why did we find a Thayer's Gull in southern Utah? Sometimes during stormy weather birds are swept off course from their familiar breeding/wintering grounds. There are many factors that determine what happens to birds when they cover hundreds of miles migrating. Since Gulls tend to look alike, it is easy to integrate into another flock. Most Gulls come in shades of white as adults, and darker shades when juveniles. The one we saw was a juvenile Thayer's, darker than the rest, and really stood out. For in-depth pictures and information about differences in Gulls, go to

        This week's artist is Jacqueline Dubois. Thank you Jacqueline for your great interpretation of the Thayer's Gull in color pencil. Note the identifying mark of a red spot on the bill. If you have questions about Gulls, or just want to talk about birds, call Marilyn Davis at 435 673-0996.


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