Date: 7/22/17 10:07 am From: RALPH ELDRIDGE <lightrae1...> Subject: [Maine-birds] Re: Wharton Point, Brunswick: Shorebirds, Peregrine Falcon, and cool gull behavior
Dropping shellfish to break them open is actually a common technique practiced by gulls, as well as some other species such as crows. They occasionally cause major problems when they use specific sections of highway so much that the broken shells slice automobile tyres.
Here's one observation posted by Bob Abrams, McLean, Virginia.
"As far as gulls dropping things onto pavement to crack them open, I do not think that there is a hard surface on the coast of New England, be it roadway, sidewalk, tennis court, parking lot or jetty, that is not littered with the broken shells of millions of crabs and mollusks that were smashed there by Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls. I have slides of a first winter Herring Gull that found a tennis ball and dropped it continually onto a jagged jetty in Newburyport Harbor. For over an hour we watched as from a height of about fifty feet, the gull would drop and follow down this ball. As it hit the jetty it would bounce to one side or the other drawing the young gull out of its vertical decent. The gull would grab the ball and mantle it, protecting it from the forays of predating gulls........which never came.They did not want his ball."
On Saturday, 22 July 2017 11:03:34 UTC-3, Donald Jones wrote:
> Hi all, > > This morning, I stopped at Wharton Point in Brunswick as the tide was > coming in. There were a decent variety of shorebirds, including 2 Greater > Yellowlegs, 3 dowitcher sp. (very distant and only seen briefly), 1 > Black-bellied Plover, 4 Semipalmated Plover, a handful of Least Sandpiper, > and roughly 40 Semipalmated Sandpiper. While I was watching, a gorgeous > Peregrine Falcon came screaming in and chased the shorebirds for several > minutes, took a shot at a gull, harassed a Snowy Egret, and flew by at > point blank range before departing inland with empty talons! > > Besides the nice migrants, I also observed a fascinating behavior by a > Herring Gull which I had never seen before. One individual was repeatedly > picking up mussels out on the mudflats, flying them in to the concrete boat > ramp, and dropping them from height in order to break open the shells. It > appeared to be an extremely effective technique; in 45 minutes or so, the > bird consumed 10 to 15 mussels and left a large field of shattered shells > on the ramp. > > My eBird checklist, with some photos of the action, is at > http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S38260236. > > Good birding, > Don Jones > Brunswick, ME / Laramie, WY >