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"The Black Skimmers Need Our Help!" Photograph and Text by Cissy Beasley
While the Laughing Gull diet consists of human offerings and whatever other meals the birds can find or are given, many might be surprised to learn that Laughing Gulls will also readily steal, kill and eat baby birds.
Anyone watching the Black Skimmer colony nesting at Rockport Beach Park in June might've seen a gull swoop down and grab a Skimmer chick right out from under its parent's breast. Such upsetting sights have been, unfortunately, pretty common this year.
The Skimmers do what they can do fend off these attacks, but the gulls - especially at the park because of people feeding them - have become aggressive and know that baby Skimmers make easy targets. Gulls will also steal and eat Skimmer eggs, effectively killing the chick before it's even born.
I am writing to WWN today to ask that park visitors not feed the Laughing Gulls, and that WWN readers ask others not to as well. It is my hope that if enough people are aware of the gulls' practice of stealing and killing Black Skimmer chicks - and the babies of other birds - then the food supply from humans will stop and the gulls won't gather at the park in such large numbers.
The Black Skimmer population is declining, and even approaching threatened status. Because of this, we should do all we can to reduce or eliminate the Laughing Gull threat to their numbers. The Rockport colony is a gift to this community, and I believe we owe it to these special birds to do all we can to protect them. Not throwing food to the gulls seems a small thing to do in exchange for the good we will do a group of baby birds, which are, otherwise, exposed to constant danger from a preventable threat.
There are other things that can be and will be done to discourage the gulls from nesting at the park, but not feeding them is something every single adult and child in Rockport can do to help. Wouldn't it feel good to know that every time you saw a beautiful Black Skimmer, you knew that you had a part in that bird being alive?
For updates to efforts to help the Black Skimmers, please visit and "like" our Facebook page at Save the Rockport Skimmers!