Gull Flocks at Dawn

Our Littleton, Colorado, farm sits on the west wall of the South Platte Valley, commanding a broad view to the east and southeast.  As a result, we enjoy spectacular sunrises, the multi-colored cloud banks catching the first rays of the sun.

Another spectacle on winter mornings is provided by massive flocks of gulls that rise from our regional reservoirs and spread out across the Metro Area and adjacent farmlands; the great majority of these omnivores are ring-billed gulls but, from miles away, it's impossible to identify the various species that winter along the Front Range.  Gulls, like Canada geese, roost on lakes and reservoirs (frozen or not) to be safe from nocturnal predators such as fox and coyotes; come dawn, the gulls are the first to disperse (usually before the sun pokes above the horizon), heading for fields, rivers, smaller lakes, landfills, parking lots and other sites where they might scavenge a meal.

While birders, such as myself, enjoy identifying species at close range, many of us are more stirred by the spectacle of massive, distant flocks.  Backed by the glorious colors of sunrise, the morning exodus of gulls in the South Platte Valley is always an inspiring sight.