No, Those Are Not Actually Seagulls You See Around Colorado
Color me shocked and a little bit disappointed, to be honest with you. As a kid, I grew up around the Great Lakes and spent a lot of time on the boat with my dad. There's just something about being around the water that always puts me in a nostalgic mood and gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling. In fact, so much so that I've lived in houses with lake — or at least some kind of water — views in Loveland, Fort Collins, AND Greeley over my 20+ years in Northern Colorado.
And absolutely nothing takes me back to my childhood like the sound of seagulls flying around. It doesn't matter if it's the parking lot at your local Walmart, where the proverbial flying rats are flittering about over the dumpsters... if they're squawking, I can close my eyes and be taken into a mental time capsule of boat and beach memories.
Except ... turns out? There are no actual seagulls in Colorado. To be fair, there's no such thing as a "seagull" at all. My 3- and 5-year-olds will be very disappointed someday when they read this.
What we commonly refer to as "seagulls" on the beaches of the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, or the Pacific Ocean aren't technically seagulls either — there's no actual thing. There are a variety of "gulls," and some of them do live by the sea. That's where the term comes from. But there's no actual seagull.
The ones that live by the sea are not always the same ones we have here around Colorado, though they are still "gulls" and sound and look a lot like the ones you see on vacation in warmer places.
In Colorado, you typically see a few varieties of gulls, according to Bird Watching HQ:
The Lesser Black-Backed Gull. These are the typical white feather birds with black and gray feathers down their back and wings that are the dumpster divers we all know and love. They're also the ones that'll snatch a sandwich out of your hand if you're sitting on a patio and not paying attention.
The Herring Gull. This is the one you likely see around here, most often around water. They're the fishergulls — which is not a word — of the group that dive down into the water and scoop up their snacks. They look a lot like the Lesser Black-Backed Gull but are more gray than black.
The Ring-Billed Gull. They look a lot like the others but have a noticeable black ring around the tip of their bill. They also like the cold weather a bit more than the other guys.
Last but not least, the California Gull. These guys hang out around farms and crops in search of odd food items paired with avocado and bacon made from plants, refer to a lot of people as "dude" and wear a lot of hemp jewelry. In all seriousness, they're the bug eaters of the group, more than fish.
So next time you hear "seagulls" or someone says something about "seagulls" in the state of Colorado, you can tell them, "Not so fast, there's no such thing." Then pull up this link and school them on your knowledge of "ornithology."
That's the study of birds, just in case you didn't know. I didn't either.
Scroll Through Some of Colorado's Rarest Birds
Gallery Credit: Wes Adams