Ring-billed Gull with Crayfish in the Snow – Plus Our Crazy Weather in Northern Utah Right Now

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Ring-billed Gull with CrayfishRing-billed Gull with Crayfish – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/2000, ISO 320, +1.0 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

Yesterday was pretty awful here in the Salt Lake City area because of ice. The ice covered the roads, the tops of the snow already laying on the ground and my Jeep. I wasn’t able to get the ice cleared off of my Jeep until around 3 pm because even walking out to it was dangerous. So I didn’t get out to photograph a thing yesterday, the sky was a leaden gray so the light was horrible and in the early hours the cold felt like it settled into my bones. The winter day had started off in the low teens.

The south wind picked up yesterday afternoon and right before I went to sleep it was nearly 50°F, it is 49°F now as I write this. The thick snow that was on the ground yesterday morning outside of my window is now virtually gone because it has been melted by what I would call a Chinook wind if I still lived in Colorado, that is what we called this kind of wind there. The wind is warm and blowing fast enough to melt the snow at a nearly unbelievable rate. That wind is still howling outside at 25 mph with gusts that are higher.

A new cold front is advancing from the west and by this evening snow is supposed to fall again.  Crazy winter weather isn’t all that unusual here but I think it has been far crazier than normal. It might be Friday before the sun shines in a blue sky, I have a feeling that cabin fever will set in so I may have to go down to the local pond even if the light is cruddy to keep that fever at bay.

Last week while I was photographing birds at the local pond I saw a Ring-billed Gull catch a crayfish at the shoreline then it gobbled it up quickly before the rest of the gulls realized it had food.  Even though the light wasn’t great I liked this image of the gull facing me head on with the crayfish struggling in its bill while the gull walked through the light, fluffy snow.

With the warm wind we have had since yesterday afternoon I’d wager a bet that there isn’t a lick of snow on the ground now where I photographed this gull.

I think this image shows how the birds struggle in the winter here in northern Utah and while I might complain about the weather I don’t have to live out in these weather conditions 24 hours a day like the birds do. The birds that stay here during the winter are strong, resilient and adaptable. I have to admire that and I do.

Life is good.


Crayfish go by many names including crawdads, crawfish, mudbugs, mountain lobsters, freshwater lobsters and yabbies. 


  1. Elephant's Child January 9, 2017 at 2:52 pm

    Stay warm, stay safe.

  2. Utahbooklover January 9, 2017 at 2:12 pm

    Great capture Mia. Yes, crazier than usual weather this winter. Just had some hail after some rainfall, temp dropping.

  3. M. Bruce January 9, 2017 at 10:29 am

    Fascinating image – stay safe!

  4. Patty Chadwick January 9, 2017 at 9:30 am

    I ‘m surprised that the gull was able to find a crayfish in such cold weather. I would expect them to be buried in mud or under a rock for the Winter…

  5. Bob McPherson January 9, 2017 at 7:52 am

    Beautiful image, Mia. Crayfish snack is probably a delicacy to the bird.

  6. Glen Fox January 9, 2017 at 7:12 am

    You have an amazing diversity of birds where you live year-round. You are blessed. Thanks for sharing that blessing with us so beautifully and thoughtfully. You have great gifts beyond photography, and a wonderful passion for nature and justice.

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