Swallow-tailed gull brings bird watchers to Richmond Beach

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Photos by Wayne Pridemore

Excited bird watchers flocked to the old oil docks at Richmond Beach this weekend.

The excitement was caused by the appearance of a swallow-tailed gull. This is a rare appearance for this species in the Puget Sound area.

The bird was first spotted Saturday at Carkeek Park by a well known bird watcher. The next two days it took up residency at Richmond Beach. 

It is a large bird with a length of 21 inches and weight of about one and a half pounds. Its bill is black with a whitish tip. The eyes are circled by a red ring. Breeding pairs have color changes from non-breeding pairs.

It raises its young in cliff colonies in the Galapagos Islands off the western coast of South America. Its appearance here is very unusual.

It's also said to be nocturnal, hunting at night over open water - another anomaly, although it was frustrating birders here by continually swooping out over open water.

The Swallow-tailed Gull utters thin, harsh, gurgling screams with head moving side to side, and also produces a rattle very different of all gull’s sounds.

Both mates gives greeting calls, some loud, rapid “kweek, kweek, kweek”.  From oiseaux-birds.com

Our little local celebrity must fly to a different beat in its route selection.

Article revised 9-5-17 12:20am


Frank Kleyn September 5, 2017 at 6:16 AM  

Great photos of this elusive and beautiful bird, Wayne.

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