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 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 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.
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.