Nesting

Western Gull (Larus occidentalis) on nest on breakwater west side of park

Western Gulls are said to choose nest locations that (a) are safe from terrestrial predators and (b) sheltered from the wind. This gull is batting .500 on those criteria. No four-legged predator is going to get out on the concrete breakwater off the west side of the park where she has build her nest. But she’s going to have to keep sitting on the nest to keep the prevailing westerly wind from blowing it away. The wind is raising up her tailfeathers, as the photo shows.

This female may have come late to breeding and could not find a spot in busier and more sheltered locales. Thousands of pairs nest on one of the Farallon Islands. Another popular nesting site is Alcatraz Island. Much will depend here on the cooperation of the male. Both parents take turns brooding the eggs. When the female sits, the male often brings her food. They’ll have to learn a tight switching-off routine to keep the nest occupied. Normally she lays three eggs. It takes a full 30 days of parental care before they hatch. Even after they have learned to fly, the chicks depend on their parents for six months or more for part of their nutrition. Even though they’re fully grown, they may beg their elders piteously to be fed. I’ve seen an instance of that behavior with these gulls, “A Gull Encounter,” Oct 4 2018, and a similar scenario with Western Grebes, “Pestering Grebe,” Oct 31 2018. This highly exposed nest bears watching.

Western Gull (Larus occidentalis) on nest on breakwater west side of park

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