Tuesday, February 19, 2013

California Gulls and a bit of Birding Fun Trivia

Adult California Gull in breeding plumage
Utah has a state bird that, on the surface, doesn't make sense, because that bird is a California Gull. Although it might seem odd that our state bird would have the namesake of another state, that is what we have here in Utah. There is a story behind "why" the California Gull was picked though, a tale of heroism and appetite.

Close up of an adult California Gull
In 1848, when the early Mormon Pioneers settled in the Salt Lake Valley and began to grow crops to sustain the pioneer community, there was a plague of grasshoppers that threatened to destroy the crops. This could have meant starvation for the new settlers.

California Gull chasing brine flies on the shore of the Great Salt Lake
Huge flocks of California Gulls descended onto the grasshoppers in the valley and made tasty meals of the insects, thus preventing the total loss of the crop. There is a statue in Salt Lake City that commemorates how the California Gulls rescued the crops of the early Mormon Pioneers and thus eventually the California Gull was named the state bird of Utah.

Just a bit of Utah trivia which as a bird photographer I find interesting.



  1. We lived at Fish Springs NWR in Utah one year when there were so many crickets in the air and on the desert road to Dugway (the roads were slick with cricket guts)... There were flocks of the gulls having the picnic of their lives!

  2. Strange and fun trivia. Love that shot of the gull going after the bugs:)

  3. Fun trivia, Mia! Great photographs to go along with your interesting bit of information!

  4. It is a rare accidental Seagull in Portugal but never observed any! Congratulations for the photos.