Can you guess how the mew gull got it name? I’ll bet that you can! It is so named because of the mewing sounds of its breeding calls. All species have a scientific name in the Latin language. In the mew gull’s case, its scientific name reflects it coloring. It means gray and white-haired gull. Several of these were seen on the annual Christmas Bird Count on Dec. 16.
The mew gull is common along Pacific Coast in winter where it can usually be seen on beaches and coastal ponds. It is typically not seen on the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge in the spring, but can be observed during all other seasons of the year.
The mew gull is similar to the ring-billed gull but, has shorter legs, a smaller bill and on average is smaller in size. Breeding mew gulls have a dusky iris, red orbital ring and an unmarked yellow bill. It is one of our “white-headed” gulls, and is the only “white-headed” gull that regularly uses trees for nesting, according to Cornell Ornithological Lab. Its appearance is that of a friendly bird, whereas most other gull species are more known for their fierce, unfriendly looks. Its wingtips generally have very little black and large white spots.
Mew gulls eat fish, grain, garbage, worms, insects and marine invertebrates. When foraging the mew gull flutters over water, feet and legs dangling. Its head is down so it can pick up small pieces of food from the surface. Mew gulls will also dive into water for fish.
Their nest is a shallow cup made of twigs, moss, dry grass, lichens, bark or small roots. It often has a stone carefully placed in the middle of the nest. The nest is placed on the ground or in a tree.