There was no school today, so when I woke up at 7:30 AM, I checked to see if they were busy with Lights Out downtown. There weren’t many birds, so I decided to take a day off and check gulls for bands at Lakeview Park and maybe look for some of those fancy sparrows at the Lorain Impoundment.
When I got to Lakeview Park, people kept flushing the gulls on the beach. I was getting frustrated, but I continued to look for birds with bands. Today, one bird in particular caught my eye. I watched it for a while and continued to scan the other gulls for bands. There weren’t any banded birds that I could see, but I kept coming back to this one bird. I stopped scanning to photograph the bird. The primaries on the bird seemed too long for a Herring Gull, it was bigger than nearby Ring-billed Gulls, and smaller than a Great Black-backed Gull.
Continuing to work my way closer and closer to this gull, I finally got close enough for a cell phone picture. I sent Tim a quick text to ask if it was a Lesser Black-backed Gull – I knew it would be hard to tell from a distant cell phone picture, but it’s better than any back-of-camera shot, so I figured it was worth a text. Of course it was hard to tell in my photo – especially with no other birds in the picture to compare it to. While I am scanning the birds for bands, I also check to see if any of them are sick or injured. This bird I was so focused on was aspirating and looked like it might be sick. So I continued to see if I could get closer.
While I was trying to get close to the bird, some people walked by and flushed it into the water. It swam out there. It never “flew” into the water. After the people left, the bird swam back toward the beach. Again, I worked my way closer and closer to this gull. Once I got the bird into the middle of the beach, I went to my car to grab my net. I knew I would need a little extra reach to catch this bird. Now I had to work my way closer to the bird with the net. This can be a tricky task, but I worked my way back to that gull. I strongly dislike running through Gulls, but one needed to be rescued, so I did it. I ran through the Gulls and netted that sick bird (and it puked bread on my shorts!)
I quickly got the bird to Lake Erie Nature & Science Center – where we agreed that it was indeed a Lesser Black-backed Gull. It was a first for me! The bird doesn’t look great, but Tim tube-fed and medicated the bird while I held it. While the bird doesn’t look great, we are always hopeful that they will recover. They don’t stand a chance if we don’t try!