Sunday, December 2, 2012

Winter Plumage

An adult laughing gull in winter plumage.
I took this photo of a laughing gull in non-breeding plumage at the end of September in southern New Jersey. Laughing gulls, Leucophaeus atricilla, loose their sleek black hoods as summer ends. Breeding season is over by then and they no longer have to look their best to impress potential mates.

If you didn't know better you would think they were different birds in summer when they look like the picture below.

Adult laughing gulls in summer. Click to enlarge. 
Even the winter plumed ones are gone from the northeast now, having flown to their wintering grounds farther south.

Their photos reminded me of summer, and of this line from Ode to the West Wind by Percy Bysshe Shelley: "If winter comes, can spring be far behind?" 

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