Ring-billed Gull in flight over open water – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/4000, ISO 500, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light
Yesterday I shared a photo of a Barn Owl in flight taken last January from the auto tour route at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge on a clear day and I thought I would share some other images I took that same morning. Usually some water stays open during the winter at the refuge and those small areas of open water attract waterfowl, the herons that are year round residents, eagles, coots and scads of gulls.
Some people don’t like gulls and some can’t stand them at all but I do like them and love to photograph them when I have the opportunity.
There were at least 50 Ring-billed Gulls at Bear River MBR diving into the open water looking for fish that winter morning which gave me plenty of chances to photograph them. There were other species of gulls around that morning too but I will share those at a later date.
Winter Ring-billed Gull at Bear River MBR – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/6400, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light
Ring-billed Gulls were hunted for their plumage in the late 19th century for the millinery trade and were among approximately 50 species of North American birds that were slaughtered just for their feathers. The feathers were stuck on ladies hats and other garments and considered quite fashionable.
Fortunately two Boston socialites, Harriet Hemenway and her cousin, Minna Hall, started a movement to protect birds after Harriet read an article that explained how many birds were being killed and asked Minna to help her by asking their socialite friends to stop wearing feathers, boycott the trade and then they formed the Massachusetts Audubon Society. Some women kept wearing their feathered garments but more than 900 women joined the Massachusetts Audubon Society and after more chapters opened in other areas the National Audubon Society was formed.
Ring-billed Gull in landing pose – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/3200, ISO 500, +1.0 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light
Thanks to the movement of Harriet and Minna, other environmentally-minded citizens, the National Audubon Society and concerned members of the scientific communities the Migratory Bird Treaty Act was passed in 1918 which makes it unlawful without a waiver to pursue, hunt, take, capture, kill or sell birds listed as “migratory” and also grants full protection to any bird parts including feathers, eggs and nests.
Hovering Ring-billed Gull in winter – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/4000, ISO 500, +1.0 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light
After the Migratory Bird Treaty Act was passed and the birds were protected they began to recover and thrive. As a bird lover, birder and bird photographer I can’t imagine a world without the species that were saved by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act including what is probably the most common gull of North America, the Ring-billed Gull.
I wish I could personally thank Harriet and Minna for helping to end the feather trade.
Life is good.