Sea gull chick faces with mom on nest 7-28-2014 WATERMARK

When the sea gull chicks have molted most of their down feathers, but don’t quite have all of their regular feathers in yet, the bone structure of their skull clearly shows.  The chicks go from being adorable baby birds with polka-dotted heads to being sort of sinister looking until their flight feathers completely grow in.

Sea gull chicks molting 7-22-2014 - 5 WATERMARK

I think this molting process makes them look sort of vulture like, which is very interesting to me because sea gulls are scavenger birds.  I used to think of sea gulls only as pretty birds on the wing overhead emitting the classic sea gull sound, which is the quintessential hallmark of being by-the-sea. 

Since I started hanging out with the harbor seals during the pupping season, I have seen the seagulls savaging the afterbirth from the harbor seals after a pup is born.  The seagulls are the clean-up crew in the seal pup birth process.  Here’s a photo of a harbor seal mother with her newborn pup just a few minutes old.  The sea gulls immediately show up to clean-up the afterbirth.  Sometimes the sea gulls even show up when the harbor seal mother is in labor & wait for the birth.  When I’m observing the pregnant seals & gulls start showing up, it can be a sign that a seal is in labor.  The seagulls know before I do.  It is an amazing example of the symbiosis in nature.

When the pup is born, the mother turns around to touch her nose to her pup’s nose.  She smells her pup because that is how she will recognize her pup from other pups.  It is a bonding behavior that is also affectionate, too.

Bonding 2-20-2014 WATERMARK Happy Mom & Brand New Pup 2-20-2014 WATERMARK

Sea gull chick faces with feathers growing in.  There’s still a bit of down, but they are getting close to where they will be able to fly soon.

The sea gull chicks are growing very fast now & are getting closer to being the same size as their parents.

It’s hard to believe that just a short time ago, these sea gull chicks were still in their eggs waiting for mom to incubate them into life. 

I am an environmentalist because of spending so much time observing nature.  My life as an artist by-the-sea observing the sea gulls has taught me that the sea gulls deserve our respect & protection, too.  The lesson for me is that I need to protect every single creature because that is the way nature works.  If one species is considered a pest because of their odor or ugliness or is hunted for their meat, fur or fins or tusks and that species ceases to exist, then the chain is broken.  Something fragile is gone & nature will never be the same.  Each creature on this planet is here for a sacred purpose in their life.  Even me.

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