Support
Subscribe
Subscribe to BirdNote

Sign up to receive a weekly email preview of the following week's shows!

Sign Up
Support BirdNote

Help BirdNote tell more stories, reach more people, and inspire action.

DONATE

You are here

Have You Ever Seen a Pink Gull?

Some gulls and terns greet the spring with a rosy blush on their breasts
© Teresa Catry View Large

Some gulls and terns may show a glowing pink color, similar to that of flamingos and spoonbills. This pink color comes from pigments in the birds' food called carotenoids. These gulls and terns are able to convert these naturally occurring pigments to hues that may enhance their success at attracting a mate.

BirdNote listeners are taking a once in a lifetime journey to the Galápagos, and you can join us in July 2018! Trip details and more at Birdnote.org.

Full Transcript

Transcript: 

BirdNote®

Have You Ever Seen a Pink Gull?

Written by Bob Sundstrom

This is BirdNote.
If we think of pink birds, flamingos and spoonbills might come to mind.
But gulls and terns can also have glowing pink breasts.
[Franklin's Gull calls, https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/31869631 ]
We picture these seaside birds decked out in their standard colors of gray, white, and black. Yet several gull and tern species greet spring with a rosy blush on their breasts. Franklin's Gulls, flying north to nest in the prairie wetlands, glow reddish-pink below—flashy enough that in the 19th century, the bird was known as "Franklin's Rosy Gull."
The Laughing Gull, common along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, may also show a suffusion of pink.
[Laughing Gull call: https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/229275 Laugh: https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/68765181 ]
The pinkest of all of this group are Roseate Terns, which have some pink all year, but reach their showiest at the start of the breeding season.
[Roseate Tern call, https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/66304761 ]
This is true of all pink-breasted gulls. The rosy glow, present in both males and females, may signal that the birds are physiologically ready to pair up and begin breeding and nesting.
That pink blush ultimately comes from pigments in the birds' food called carotenoids (pron: kuh-ROT-un-oids). These gulls and terns are able to convert these naturally occurring pigments to hues that may enhance their success at attracting a mate — and help foster the next generation of the rosy-breasted.
For BirdNote, I’m Mary McCann.
                                          ###
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Recorded by Paul Marvin and Bob McGuire.
BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Managing Producer: Jason Saul
Associate Producer: Ellen Blackstone
© 2018 Tune In to Nature.org  May 2018  Narrator: Mary McCann

ID#      plumage-04-2018-05-16   plumage-04    

Sights & Sounds

Related topics:

Related field notes:

Home
Shows
Galleries
More