Starlings in a tree/ Gulls in Canal Park

OK … I know what you’re saying. Starlings in a tree? Gulls in Canal Park? Is the Wannabe Birder that hard up?

But I think you have to agree that this picture, taken by Bob King, of a pair of European starlings high up in a spruce tree is worth a look. Bob says they were "hissing and gurgling away" this morning in one of his trees. I think those hisses and gurgles were the starlings’ way of giving thanks that they aren’t turkeys. We can give thanks that the starlings were in Bob’s tree and not our feeders.

Besides, the original Thanksgiving was celebrated by people who had come over from England. That makes starlings a sort of fitting symbol for Thanksgiving, don’t you think?

On to the gulls … these are not your garden-variety ring-billed gulls. Erik Bruhnke reports via the Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union’s e-mail listserv that on Tuesday morning  he and Karl Bardon saw an Iceland gull, a great black-backed gull and several Thayer’s gulls in Canal Park. All of these are uncommon if not rare in this region.

I’m looking at illustrations of the great black-backed gull in the bird book, and it, especially, would be exciting to see. Its back is, indeed, black, as are the back of its wings, and it looks like it makes quite a dramatic statement of black-and-white in flight. And it’s nearly twice as big as a ring-billed gull (that’s the kind we see so much of around here).

If you’ve spent time along the Atlantic Coast, great black-backed gulls may not be a big deal to you; they’re common out there. But they aren’t typically Midwestern birds.

So if you need to go for a walk to work off that Thanksgiving turkey tomorrow, Canal Park might be a good place to do it.

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