[CT Birds] Plankton feeding gulls

elphick at sbcglobal.net elphick at sbcglobal.net
Thu Mar 1 18:35:01 EST 2012


I can't comment in any detail about the gulls in Long Island Sound, but it is not unusual for gulls to feed on small prey.  Also, not all zooplankton are microscopic and they often occur at such high densities that multiple individuals can be eaten in one "bite".  To take an extreme example, most California gulls nest in colonies at saline lakes (eg Mono Lake in CA and the Great Salt Lake) - these lakes are too salty to support fish and the food supply is largely restricted to small invertebrates.  At Mono, the only foods available are brine flies and brine shrimp (think sea monkeys, not seafood buffet), yet thousands of gulls successfully raise young each summer). Adults will literally just run along the shoreline through swarms of flies with their mouths open.

If there are high densities of zooplankton in the Sound, it would be remarkable if gulls - the ultimate opportunists - were not taking advantage of it.

Chris



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