Gulls are the most common bird that you will see on Kiawah’s beach any time of the year. They’re about 16 inches tall, with gray upper bodies, white under bodies, webbed feet, and medium sized stout beaks with a hook on the end. These highly adaptable birds eat crabs, small fish, crustaceans, and insects, but mostly they are scavengers, stealing scraps of food, garbage, and even other birds’ eggs. They are quick and sneaky birds, often waiting near other birds, hoping that they will drop their lunches.
Although there are a number of different species of gulls on the Island, young gulls of all species look somewhat alike, with brownish speckled feathers. If you quietly watch the gulls, you may notice some interesting ways that they interact with each other. One gull may display dominance by loudly cackling, nodding his head and upper body, flapping his wings, and even chasing other birds away. Notice how gulls show submission, by turning their heads and walking away. One of the benefits of gulls is that they will eat anything. These assertive and adaptable birds are survivalists, and are quite helpful in keeping our beach clean.
Photo by Jim Chitwood