Animal Behaviors: Birds Do It

Page Two: The Seagull in the Surf

To stand at the edge of the sea, to sense the ebb and the flow of the tides, to feel the breath of a mist moving over a great salt marsh, to watch the flight of shore birds that have swept up and down the surf lines of the continents for untold thousands of years, to see the running of the old eels and the young shad to the sea, is to have knowledge of things that are as nearly eternal as any earthly life can be.
Rachel Carson
Under the Sea-Wind.

At the end of the summer we took a trip to the Virginia Beach area. Henry (my fiancé) was just starting his online classes for his master’s degree. The school is located between Norfolk and Virginia Beach and we needed to visit the campus. It was only the first week of classes and he was already feeling overwhelmed so I gave him some private time and went to the beach to shoot some pictures. The tide was coming in and I literally got 100’s of what I thought were great shots in no time. Not wanting to return to our room so soon I began to observe my surroundings a little more.

Not five feet from me a seagull was “playing” on the beach. I wondered “do seagulls play?” I’m not a big animal person. I don’t dislike animals but it just not in my DNA to be attracted to them. Some people are I am not one of them. So I don’t know a lot about animals, really.

I know that dogs play and cats (well kittens) play. But I wondered do the squirrels that spend their days chasing walnuts in my yard play or are they all work storing nuts for the winter? Is this seagull simply looking for food in the surf or playing in it?

I watched some more.

The bird would chase the water as it was pulled back to sea and then run from the next wave just as I used to do as a kid when we went to the beach. At first I thought “No way” it’s just looking for food and doesn’t want to get its feet wet. Okay, I know a seagull that doesn’t want to get his feet wet is a little preposterous, but I here I was alone, except for a very few stragglers and the seagull. There was nothing to do but to observe and to ponder.


After watching the seagull for several minutes and brainstorming possible scenarios to explain the behavior I came to the only logical conclusion; sea gulls do play in the surf, or at least this one does.

I wonder more about seagulls now that I know they like to play in the surf .I wonder if they play in groups sometimes or do they always play alone. Do they play every day or only after their work is through?

It’s interesting this life. I took so much for granted for so long, only concerned with what concerned me and my little world. I want to be 30 again and start from there. I promise to watch the birds and the squirrels play instead of just smelling the roses.

6 thoughts on “Animal Behaviors: Birds Do It

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