Gull Fight

Alex Lamoreaux|

Back on February 11th, 2012 I was enjoying the massive gathering of gulls at Daytona Beach Shores, Florida (eBird list). Picking through thousands of gulls is always exciting because at any moment a rarity could pop into your scope view. However, not only is it fun to look through gulls for the rare species, but also to watch the behavior of various species up-close. Herring Gulls in particular seem to interact with each other quite a lot which can often lead to the gulls doing goofy things. On this particular day, I noticed a juvenile Herring Gull that had found a small, torn piece of cloth.

The young Herring Gull when it first discovered a mysterious piece of cloth that washed up on Daytona Beach. (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

The gull immediately determined that this piece of cloth was his and only his. For a while, the gull was alone and attempted to eat the piece of cloth (a good reminder to never litter since gulls will attempt to eat anything). That is when the other gulls noticed and moved in closer. Soon the young gull was surrounded by his peers, all wanting the piece of cloth for themselves. The gull stood his ground and let out a loud cry to apparently worn the other gulls not to mess with him. Of course, the gulls couldn’t control themselves and soon a fight broke out.

The gull standing his ground as other gulls gather around to attempt and steal the special piece of cloth. (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

The young gull was able to fend off a few attacks, as more and more gulls began to try and steal the piece of cloth. Soon he was over-run and had to take flight. That’s when the games really started – one very determined gull took off and followed the original gull, who was still carrying the cloth. A fight began over the crashing waves but then both birds were pushed down to the shallow water along the beach.

Two Herring Gulls fight in the air over a small piece of cloth. (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

The two gulls fought in the water, but the original finder of the cloth was able to defend it well. (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

The two gulls fought in the water, but the original finder of the cloth was able to defend it well. (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

After a few minutes of fighting, the gull was able to successfully defend its piece of cloth and flew off to celebrate. The gull stood in the water along the beach, dropped the piece of cloth, and began preening itself, wing stretching, and calling. After all the trouble that gull went through to keep that small piece of cloth, I watched as it slowly floated away in the waves and the gull went back to being just another Herring Gull among the 750+ present that day.

Celebrating his victory as the cloth floats away. (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

  • Yeanette Johnson

    Nice photos Alex! Thanks for sharing 🙂