Skip to content

The World’s Smallest Seagull.

August 23, 2014

Little Gull

I saw something this morning- a new life list bird for me.  It was easy to pick a topic for this post 🙂

0814-4 (2)

After a very foggy Saturday morning drive, I showed up at Alum Creek State Park- the beach there, to be more specific.  I had seen online that birders had spotted a rare bird there.

Last August, I had gone to the same place looking for a different bird.  Even if August is still summer, some birds have already gotten a head start on the autumn migration season- particularly shorebirds.

0814-4 (1)

The fog hung around for a while, shrouding everything in a misty glow.  The sun was trying to break through.

0814-4 (19)

0814-4 (16)

Seagulls really like the sandy beach here.  Ring-Billed Gulls are the most common species, often with a few Herring Gulls here and there.  Since sandy beaches are scarce in central Ohio, the beach here is a great place to see unusual birds.

0814-4 (14)

0814-4 (17)

The above Ring-Bill walked with a pronounced limp- I wonder how it’s leg got hurt.  It moved around well enough, though.  I’ve seen shorebirds with broken legs that still hop around and get enough to eat.

0814-4 (15)

0814-4 (22)

Killdeer- those abundant inland shorebirds-  like the beach as well.

0814-4 (4)

Cormorants flew by, not far above the water.

0814-4 (5)

0814-4 (9)

A little ways off from the big flock of gulls was a lone bird, always standing at the edge of the water.  It had a harsh call, unlike the others.

0814-4 (10)

0814-4 (8)

This was a Little Gull, a very descriptive name for the smallest gull in the world.  It can get up to a foot long, which is pretty small for such birds.

0814-4 (11)

This particular bird is an immature bird- it eventually will get an all-black head.  When these birds are young, they wander- and since they typically live in Europe, they can wander very far!  One bird that was banded as a nestling in Europe turned up in Pennsylvania the very first summer of its life.

Like some other gulls, this bird will take 3 years to become an adult- changing its appearance each year.  Yes, seagulls can be difficult to identify…

There are rare colonies of this bird in North America- so it can be seen migrating along the east coast or around the Great Lakes.  Seeing one in central Ohio is a treat- Lake Erie is a ways off.

0814-4 (12)

This bird eats by standing along the water’s edge and grabbing floating food, such as insects or crustaceans.  That’s why it looks like it’s looking out to sea.  A very neat bird- one that may not be seen again for quite a while in this area.  I’m glad I got to snap its picture- you never know what’s going to turn up!

26 Comments leave one →
  1. August 23, 2014 10:59 pm

    Way cool, what a great find! It looks very much like an immature Bonaparte’s gull, but then, all gulls look alike to me. 😉

    • August 23, 2014 11:09 pm

      Hah, you and me both! ‘What gull is this? It sort of looks like a 2nd-year this, or is it a first-year that?’

  2. August 23, 2014 11:28 pm

    Tracy, congratulations on seeing one of your dream birds! Always enjoy your post—but the pictures on this one were a bit of a shock for me. Northern beaches look a whole lot different from the ones down south. Is that brown stuff supposed to be sand? Guess ya’ll save the white for the snow.

    • August 24, 2014 8:43 am

      I’m pretty sure that the sand was hauled in since the reservoir itself is artificial, John- back in the 60s and 70s lots of reservoirs were built in Ohio to meet the growing population’s demand for water (the population isn’t necessarily growing now- but back then it was, big time). A good amount of the bodies of water up here aren’t quite ‘natural’ in the sense that rivers and creeks had dams placed upon them to build up a body of water in front of them…also, in the summer when the beaches are heavily used, they bring in earth-moving equipment to frequently rake out the sand- and perhaps add new sand on top.

      I’m sure there are a good amount of natural bodies of water up north, but Ohio isn’t the best place to look for them, outside of Lake Erie anyway!

      I know what you mean about white sand- i saw it in the Carolinas many years ago on vacation 🙂

  3. August 24, 2014 3:32 am

    Exciting! Lovely photos – especially the last one. Well done!

  4. August 24, 2014 7:24 am

    Very cool! Not a bird we see every day.

  5. August 24, 2014 8:44 am

    Hi. Great addition to the Life List.

  6. August 24, 2014 9:20 am


  7. August 24, 2014 11:31 am

    What a cute bird! Apparently they come here (to the Eastern Shore of Maryland) during the winter months. I’ll have to keep an eye out for them.

  8. August 24, 2014 4:59 pm

    They look much like our black headed gulls. Are they the same bird?

  9. August 24, 2014 7:28 pm

    What a wonderful sighting!

  10. August 24, 2014 11:52 pm

    Quite a find! It’s a beautiful bird!

  11. August 31, 2014 8:08 pm

    Okay, you are good. You are even making seagulls look interesting and attractive. In honor, I have a joke for you… “Why don’t seagulls fly over the bay?”

    “Because then they’d be bay gulls (bagels)”

  12. September 8, 2014 2:20 am

    The Little Gull is a pretty little bird.

    • September 8, 2014 1:47 pm

      It certainly is, Patti- I’m always surprised to see so many gulls nowhere near the ocean!


  1. Rare Migrant Seagulls. | Seasons Flow

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: