California Gull Up Close

A California Gull up close in breeding plumageA California Gull up close in breeding plumage

So yesterday I was finally able to get out and go photographing again after a week of not going and there were birds and and even some sunshine. For a while. It felt marvelous to have my hands on my gear again.

I photographed a few different birds but my favorites of the day were of this California Gull that flew in while I was photographing a Long-billed Curlew.

A fluffed up California Gull in breeding plumageA fluffed up California Gull in breeding plumage

This gull kept moving closer and closer and it might have been looking for a hand out from me (not that I would ever feed a gull) so I turned my attention away from the curlew and focused solely on the gull. I think they are beautiful and always enjoy getting close up images of them and this gull moved so close all I could do was portraits of it.

A California Gull with its bill openA California Gull with its bill open

Then it opened and closed its bill three times without making a sound and I thought it might spit up a pellet or some thing but it never did. Here the gull has its bill open and one can see how it has little barb like things on the roof of the bill for grasping what ever it is eating.

Open wide!Open wide!

This image show them even better. These gulls can open their bills pretty wide which is why they can swallow prey whole and we humans sit there scratching our heads wondering how they could swallow something so big.

A California Gull with its bill wide openA California Gull with its bill wide open

But their bills don’t just open wide top to bottom they can also expand the opening side to side as this image shows. It also shows the long, narrow “tongue” which when it moves pushes the food down the bird’s throat. Pretty fascinating if you ask me.

Yes, I know people call them “trash birds”, “garbage birds”, “flying rats” and much more. But with this bird’s plumage, bright red orbital ring and orange gape plus its multicolored bill all this California Gull would need to get some people excited about it is talons instead of webbed feet and more of a hook to its bill and people would go absolutely bat-sh*t crazy over them.

Life is good.


Techs for all these images: Nikon D810, f10,  1/1600, ISO 400, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited


  1. Utahbooklover May 19, 2015 at 9:57 pm

    Wow — that last shot is amazing. I had no idea they could open that wide.

  2. Elephant's Child May 19, 2015 at 2:25 pm

    You do take some amazing portraits.
    And I can think of a lot more ‘trash people’ than birds. A lot more.

  3. Dave Sparks May 19, 2015 at 12:42 pm

    I’m glad the weather was cooperative, finally. It would have been a shame to miss the fantastic session with the California Gull.

  4. Patty Chadwick May 19, 2015 at 8:02 am

    Very interesting shots and comments! Never knew any of it…you and Ron are teacing us so much!!! Thanks!

  5. Nancy Collins May 19, 2015 at 7:52 am

    Great photos Mia! Simply a gorgeous bird!

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