They’re here! They’re here! The eggs on the bell tower have hatched sometime last night, and the nest is now home to three adorable seagull chicks.
Bell tower? Yep: in the last couple of weeks I noticed another seagull nest, built on the southwest corner of the Cathedral’s taller bell tower. But since it’s almost exactly at eye level with my work, I couldn’t see the eggs.
However, I could see the eggs at 650 Richards. Most of the time a gull was sitting on the nest, but I was lucky enough to catch them switching off. Yes, apparently seagull parents take turns sitting on the eggs. That surprised me, though in hindsight it shouldn’t have. I’d just assumed (sexist me!) that the female sat, and the male went off hunting and fed her. Just because I’d never seen him do it was not evidence against my theory.
So that was on the 11th, the day after my last seagull entry. I saw them switching, grabbed the binoculars, and briefly gazed in wonder upon three dark greenish-grey eggs, blending in wonderfully with the earth/moss nest. Without binoculars, I would probably have missed them, and definitely couldn’t have counted them.
And then… I waited. A couple times I saw them switch, or the sitting parent would get up to stretch its legs a bit, and I’d confirm that, yep, three eggs. Still not hatched. A few times I saw the gull pick at the nest, rearranging the mossy bits. Damn, how boring must it be if even the seagulls get antsy? Then again, they would get easily bored, wouldn’t they? They’re creatures of wide open spaces, surrounded by dozens of their fellows all the time. Must be hard to just… sit.
Wednesday, June 13th: a half-dozen gulls drove off an eagle. It was majestically soaring higher than the tallest skyscrapers, higher than seagulls normally fly, but it was still too close for comfort.
Wednesday, June 20th: hey, it’s panting. A panting seagull, how about that? But I guess it’s boiling, sitting like that in full sunlight. And since birds don’t sweat, it’s got to bleed off its excess heat somehow. Makes sense, right? Yet one more thing I never thought about.
As of today the first clutch of eggs haven’t hatched (I assume, since they’re still being sat on). But that’s okay, because I’m being wildly entertained by the tower chicks. Again, I need binoculars to see them because their down is a dark mottled grey-brown, excellent camouflage. And they’re surprisingly mobile for their age. I’d imagined bald little chicks, nothing but huge open beaks constantly begging for food from mama. But these kids are happily waddling along, exploring their home (all three square feet of it), occasionally begging for food, but mostly just… being babies, y’know? Walking around, looking around, preening their down, bumping into things and each other, always watched by one or more parents. They’re not quite alike, which is also interesting: it looks like one is quite a bit darker than its siblings. Natural selection at work. The ones who blend it best with their surroundings are less likely to be eaten.
A few times a chick would try to fly. Props for already having the right instincts, but it just amounted to them hopping up and down while flapping their useless little wings. Still, I laughed out loud because OMG SO CUTE!!!!!
Now I can’t wait to see them really learn to fly. In fact I’m tempted to buy a telephoto lens just for that.