UW Today

August 3, 2011

A lazy life for gull friends in Drumheller Fountain

News and Information

Two baby sea gulls took up residence in Drumheller Fountain this week, being nurtured by parents and growing chubby.

Two baby sea gulls took up residence in Drumheller Fountain this week, being nurtured by parents and growing chubby.

Its a good life, lazing on a ramp in Drumheller Fountain, yawning in the summer sun and growing chubby.

Thats the scene for two baby sea gulls this week — nonmatriculating visitors to our campus. It looks like theyre thriving, being nurtured by parents as they sprout feathers and prepare to take wing.

“The gulls seem to be doing well by all reports,” said Charles Easterberg, public health adviser for the Environmental Health and Safety Department, which monitors such situations. “The parents are feeding them and they are fledging and growing new feathers.”

Indeed, theyre well looked after by a parent gull who hovers nearby, eyeing passers-by suspiciously and occasionally swooping aloft to babysit from atop Mary Gates Hall.

The sign says 'Make way for ducklings,' but this week it was baby sea gulls, contentedly lazing on the ramp and growing chubby.

The sign says "Make way for ducklings," but this week it was baby sea gulls, contentedly lazing on the ramp and growing chubby.Peter Kelley

No ones quite certain how the gulls got there. “Its possible they may have walked to the ramp,” said Easterberg. “Waters water, any port in a storm. Usually they stay in their nests until fledged, they hatch and stay there until they can fly on their own.”

Theyre Glaucous winged gulls, Easterberg said, a common salt water gull rarely found very far inland.

“One does seem to have a little limp — its not as mobile as the other — but theyre in pretty good shape,” he said. “But theyll be on the wing very shortly. It looks to me like theyre losing their down feathers and are pretty well grown in with their first coat of kid feathers.” In fact, they may be gone by the time you read this.

Easterberg and others who know say its best to leave them alone. “Avoid getting too close to the young because that will worry and upset the parents, and the idea is to get them fully fledged so they can blast off on their own and join the gull world.”

He added, “Its best to just let nature take its course.”