|Gull with Chinook salmon|
It was clearly a male, as evidenced by the noticeable ‘kype’ located at the tip of the lower jaw. This is a hook-like secondary sex characteristic which develops in some male salmonids prior to the spawning season. I estimated its size as about three feet in length.
As I drew closer, I noticed a couple of gulls circling overhead. One landed in the water and swam over to the salmon. After inspecting it for a few moments, it sank its beak deep into the eye socket area, as I snapped off a few photos.
The gull appeared to me to be an immature glaucous-winged gull. This species is very common in our area and takes four years to become an adult. In the immature phase, the feather coloration is an admixture of cream-colored white and a mottled tan, with a black beak.
The gull continued to paddle along beside the salmon and occasionally peck at it. After observing the two for a while longer, I finally decided to continue on my way, leaving nature to take its inevitable course.
Story and Photos by John Reinke