The beautifully brutal life of gulls

By Carl Zimmer | August 10, 2010 11:21 pm

GullbandingThis week I’m on the Island of Science Writing. Today we wandered rocky coves with Tufts University biologist Julie Ellis, an expert on gulls. She showed us how to catch and band juvenile herring gulls–and  how to recognize the matted remains of juvenile herring gulls coughed up by their great black-backed gulls predators. Life here is pretty, and yet not so pretty. But always interesting for writing about.


Comments (4)

  1. I’ve been watching gulls on Appledore Island for many summers, and the more I learn about them, the more I like and admire them. Just now, for instance, I stepped outside to watch a young great black-backed gull testing its wings as it learns to fly. Hopping and flapping, it tried unsuccessfully to get airborne. But it will keep trying, and I will keep watching. This wonderful mix of development, behavior, and functional morphology is going on right in front of me, and it never fails to fascinate.

    I am very glad that you are back with us at Shoals Marine Laboratory!

  2. Laura Klappenbach

    I attended your science writing course last summer and I can still conjure up the cries of gulls in my mind. They provided an interesting (though at times cacophonous) soundtrack to a wonderful writing experience – I hope this year’s course is as rewarding an experience for all your students as last year’s was for me!


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The Loom

A blog about life, past and future. Written by DISCOVER contributing editor and columnist Carl Zimmer.

About Carl Zimmer

Carl Zimmer writes about science regularly for The New York Times and magazines such as DISCOVER, which also hosts his blog, The LoomHe is the author of 12 books, the most recent of which is Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed.


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