Abide under the shadow...

     It is 90 degrees in the shade! Whew! Summer is here on the Broward. The words  “Ice” and “coffee” however, are not, and never will be in my vocabulary. I still like it hot. A muggy blast of hot humid air hits me when the back door is opened. After nesting season most of the marsh birds have disappeared. Some may be molting. About the only bird I see regularly on the dock now is George ( the Yellow Crowned Night Heron ) and a couple of Great Egrets. Time to head to the beach and do some bird stewarding. The Laughing Gull chicks have hatched and are starting to venture out of the dune nests by the thousands.

     Laughing Gulls are a year round residents of Florida and the gulf coast and primarily an East coast gull. They are a coastal species and rarely seen very far inland. If you see a gull at a shopping mall it is probably a Laughing Gull. They eat almost anything, including food they catch, handouts (IE will steal your food), garbage, and scrap discards from fishing boats (Source: Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology). Laughing gulls are medium gray above and white below. Summer adults have a crisp black hood, white arcs around the eye, and a reddish bill. In the winter, the hood becomes a blurry gray mask on a white head. The chicks take a few weeks for the down to turn to feathers. During this time they are unable to regulate their body heat and must have shade to keep cool.  The adult (usually the female) can often be seen with a chick or two abiding in its shadow. The good folks who manage Huguenot beach erect shade screens along the dunes for the chicks to keep cool and provide protection from predator birds. It my job as a Bird Steward to keep the “tourists” from running over the chicks when they venture out on the beach. Life is tough enough for these young gulls. They need every chance they can get to survive.

     It is no wonder we see verses that tell us to abide under the shadow of His wings. I don’t think God literally has wings but the metaphor has true meaning to me. Just like the young birds that abide under the shadow of their parents, we too can do the same and feel that sense of being protected. Just like the little gulls. Blessings. Harry

Laughing Gull profile during breeding season..note the white eye ring and dark hood, and red beak.

A Laughing Gull heads out to the beach to find food for the newly hatched chicks. 

Can you spot the chicks? they blend in well with the surrounding vegetation on the dunes. 

When the parents leave to find food often the chicks will climb down the dunes onto the beach and wait for food.

Where is Mom?..I am getting too hot! Young chicks cannot regulate their body heat. 

Found her! Young Laughing gull chicks abide in the shadow of their parents to keep cool. 

When ya gonna feed us? 

Here comes lunch. Bugs, It's whats for dinner!

email: selsorhd@me.com

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