Well, that answers that question.
A couple of weeks ago I wondered where the two gulls would settle down. Turns out they settled down right on the roof where they consummated their union. At least I assume it’s the same couple—not to sound speciesist or anything, but seagulls all kind of look alike to me.
So on Monday, they were tearing up bits of the moss growing on the roof (I’m almost positive it’s 650 Richards St, one of the buildings adjunct to the Holy Rosary Cathedral) to make a dandy little nest right next to the chimney, affording them a bit of shelter against the wind and the rain. They needed it, too, because the weather this week has been pretty bad for the season.
The female (I assume it’s the female) has spent all her time in the nest, moving only to change direction or readjust her butt. The male spends most of his time away, probably hunting. Since the female isn’t getting her own food the male must be feeding her but I’ve yet to see it. It might just be happening a couple of times a day, when I’m not at work. When he is nearby, he usually stands on the chimney or at the edge of the roof looking around, hardly ever getting close to the nest. Interesting. I’d expected more… maybe not affection, but at least contact from time to time. But there you go, that’s just mammalian bias.
On Tuesday the male fought off a crow, who’d probably seen the nest and came looking for eggs. It was a gorgeous aerial battle, with the black bird and the white bird swooping around and snapping at each other for a few minutes. And you know, seagulls are pretty darn nimble. They don’t usually need to be, but the buggers can turn on a dime with just little twitches of their great big wings.
The male stayed near the nest for a couple of hours after that, obviously on high alert, but there were no more marauding crows. I noticed he was picking at its right wing a lot. At first I thought he might be injured, but it looked like he was just preening his feathers. What would happen if it were injured, though? Could the female make it as a single mom?
I don’t know, but she probably wouldn’t need to. On Friday the male was in another fight, this time with another seagull. He got to keep his territory (such as it was) but it made me wonder: what if it had lost? Was the other male (I assume it was a male) making a play just for the real estate or the female as well? And if the latter, would it destroy the eggs as soon as she laid them and force her to mate with him? Other species do this. It’s nasty, but it makes perfect sense from a natural selection perspective. No sense in spending energy raising chicks that don’t carry your genetic code.
I don’t know if the female has started laying eggs yet. I’ll bring binoculars tomorrow.