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A break from urban wildlife for a day at the beach | Environment

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A break from urban wildlife for a day at the beach
A break from urban wildlife for a day at the beach

LAKE MICHIGAN -  Even a dog has to take a break from all the excitement of his backyard kingdom.  On this sunny summer day, George, my husband, and I head to the beach.  Our friends, Nancy and Don, own a cottage on Lake Michigan, and they have invited the three of us to spend the day at the beach.

This is George’s first visit to Lake Michigan.  The waves were a little intimidating at first.  He would sniff the water, but he would not allow himself to get wet.  He wouldn’t even dip his paw into the water to check it out.  Then something caught his eye.  George noticed the beautiful white birds walking along the water’s edge.  He tried to get close to these interesting critters, but they would simply fly off.

Silly me, I thought seagulls only lived by the ocean, and then I moved to Michigan and discovered the Big Lake is home to a thriving population of seagulls.  I have since learned that seagulls or gulls will live almost anywhere with water and food.  They prefer fresh water but can drink salt water because they have special glands above their eyes that are designed to flush the salt out of the water. 

Gulls dine on small and medium sized fish, crabs, insects, and actually they will eat about anything.  They are opportunists, which is nice way of saying they are scavengers. You can find them hunting for food in garbage dumpsters, and the brave ones will steal food directly from your hands.  They have learned that humans are a good source for food.  I’ve seen hundreds of gulls follow the car ferry, waiting for people to throw treats in the air. 

George knows none of this about gulls.  He’s just fascinated by the flock of gulls prancing up and down the beach.  He tried to prance with them, but the gulls wanted none of that and flew off.  He doesn’t understand why the gulls don’t want to become his friends.  Now he’s learned to watch the gulls from a far.  That’s him behind a clump of dune grass.

Next Sunday, we cross Lake Michigan to find a rare backyard critter.

If you missed last week’s story on the critters who taunt George, click on this link: