|A young herring gull, Larus argentatus, flying with a crab in its mouth. Herring gulls are common on both American coasts in winter. Click to enlarge. |
Herring gulls take four years to acquire their adult plumage, molting into different sets of feathers, each with a distinctive appearance, each summer and winter. The bird pictured above was born this year and is in its first winter plumage now in September: mottled brown all over, patterned wings, slightly paler head with a dark eye, a mostly black bill, and pink legs.
, the poet, also stopped to watch gulls. He might have been thinking about herring gulls when he wrote this in his poem Crossing Brooklyn Ferry
... seagulls -- I saw them high in the air, floating with motionless wings, oscillating their bodies, I saw how the glistening yellow lit up parts of their bodies, left the rest in shadow, I saw the slow-wheeling circles, and the gradual edging toward the south.