Dovekie – It’s What’s for Dinner

Alex LamoreauxBird Finding Tips, Bird Sightings, Birding, birds in flight, General News and Info, Photography, Trip Reports2 Comments

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)

  • 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