Dovekie – It’s What’s for Dinner

Alex Lamoreaux|

Around 9:45am on the day of the February 4th Cape May pelagic, I was standing on the very front of the boat, scanning for birds. I looked over to our left and a few hundred yards out I saw some commotion on water. I could see a Great Black-backed Gull diving at the water and occasionally landing on the water and messing with something. At about the same time, another birder on board spotted a Northern Fulmar in the same direction, so the captain moved the boat in closer. As we approached the Great Black-backed Gull, we could see it had something in its mouth. Finally, we were close enough to realize that we had just witnessed the gull kill a Dovekie! Throughout the day we witnessed this one other time, when a group of Herring Gulls managed to kill and tear apart a Dovekie. We were able to scare the gulls off their meal however, and bring the dead Dovekie on board, to examine it more closely. I have seen Great Black-backed Gulls kill and eat other small birds (and even bigger birds like Common Merganser) but I was not expecting to see one kill a Dovekie – I guess out on the ocean during winter, you take what you can get.

Great Black-backed Gull with a Dovekie it managed to kill (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

A dead Dovekie floating on the surface (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

Herring Gull attempting to take a dead Dovekie for itself (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

Herring Gull attempting to take a dead Dovekie for itself (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

Paul Guris with a dead Dovekie (Photo by Ian Gardner)

A close-up of the dead Dovekie (Photo by Ian Gardner)

A Northern Fulmar enjoying a bit of dead Dovekie (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

Great Black-backed Gull passing the boat (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

Herring Gull passing the boat (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

About the Author

Alex Lamoreaux


Alex Lamoreaux has been an avid birder and naturalist since he was a youngster, growing up exploring the farmland and Appalachian ridges near Hershey, Pennsylvania. He attended Penn State University, studying wildlife biology. Alex has traveled extensively throughout North America, Central America, and South Africa and is a freelance nature tour guide, field biologist, and wildlife photographer. Alex has worked on wildlife research projects ranging from Whimbrel migration along the coast of Virginia to Yellow-billed Cuckoo nesting in the desert southwest. He has been the migration counter at the Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory for the past two fall seasons, documenting the massive visible migration of raptors and songbirds along Lake Superior. Alex loves to share his knowledge of nature, and strives to bring the birding community together to share in the fun that studying birds and wildlife has to offer. He has helped to organize and coordinate birding events in his home state of Pennsylvania and beyond. Contact Info Alex Lamoreaux aslamoreaux@gmail.com (717) 943-7086

  • I knew that they were small…but seeing them picked up by a Great Black-backed Gull really puts it into perspective.

  • Noooooo! What a tragedy. Fascinating, but heartbreaking. I’ve never seen any large gulls attack and kill other birds, but it must be quite a sight. Especially when that other bird is as adorable as a Dovekie