Through the Looking Glass of Val Lee – Yellow-legged Seagulls

Yellow-legged Seagull @ Val J. Lee

I enjoyed observing these aves moving about the Rock of Gibraltar where Mediterranean Sea intersects with Atlantic Ocean … becoming one. You can view Africa from Gibraltar, specifically Morocco, and ferries run between. It is a famed limestone peak that was once a fortress.

Rock of Gibraltar @ Val J. Lee

It is richly historical with an inner being that possesses 150 caves and one still holds ancient cannons that are focused on the sea straits.

Gibraltar west side cannon @ Val J. Lee

The City of Gibraltar, holding within the Rock of Gibraltar, is a territory of Britain though it is surrounded by Spain and Spain would like to re-seize it. Spain lost Gibraltar to Britain in the war of 1704.

The highlighted cave of Saint Michael’s, (named after Michael the Archangel in the Bible) was magnificently designed by Jesus Christ. It lodges many deep cavities and a crystal clear lake. The Greeks believed this cave led to Hades.

Barbary or Rock Monkeys freely roam about the Rock. No one knows for sure how these Moroccan monkeys came to Gibraltar; though one couple could have snuck aboard a cargo ship headed for Gibraltar, and over time, propagated  a colony of apes.

Rock Apes on Rock of Gibraltar @ Val J. Lee

Here is my photo of a Barbary Monkey at the summit of Gibraltar and link to my video:

Monkeys (Barbary Macaque) Atop Gibraltar

Barbary Monkey on Rock of Gibraltar @ Val J. Lee

Both the Barbary Monkeys and the Yellow-legged Seagulls (Larus michahellis) love leftovers and handouts. We saw the Seagulls fighting the monkeys for food. Surprisingly, the yellow legs won. It appears these seagulls and monkeys rule Gibraltar in a bi-partisan manner.

Yellow-legged Seagulls on Rock of Gibraltar @ Val J. Lee

Gibraltar is quite the scene and I must say it was the monkeys I enjoyed the most even though they are an aggressive species of monkey.

@ Val J. Lee

This is my husband feeding a friendly rock ape from our car window with some bird seed I brought to feed flyers. A huge, baboon-like ape, noticed this happening, and seeming to come out of nowhere, came right through this window to rob us. I cried, “No” at him, as I do my cats on the rare occasions when they misbehave. But he didn’t care that I pleaded for him to reconsider. He grabbed the bird food bag forcibly from my hand. He knew he was far stronger and faster than I. My husband found it quite the joke, but I was infuriated.

Barbary Monkeys enjoying view on Rock of Gibraltar @ Val J. Lee

You do have to walk cautiously, knowing these apes can bite hard if you do not let them have their way. You can end up spending your vacation in the hospital. They will even check your pockets for food. I must say I enjoyed the Green Monkeys of Barbados better, as they are sweet, shy and kind.

The Yellow-legged Gulls can be mistaken for the European Herring Gull that also displays a red mark on the beak during breeding season. This mark is the target that yellow-legged Gull chicks tap to incite their parents to regurgitate partly digested victuals. (See first photo) Now, who told them where to tap for food and who made that red mark? Yes, the LORD God! He cares for baby birds and makes sure they are wondrously provided for.

Can you imagine the lifelessness of our domain if God had created a black and white world with only black and white birds? Psalm 8, in the Bible, is a song of praise to God whose name is excellent in all the earth! In this song, the LORD proclaims men’s glory, honor and dominion over our prismatic earth, including the multihued birds of the air.

Yellow-legged Seagulls @ Val J. Lee

Both the Yellow-legged and Herring gull, peer with yellow eyes that are surrounded with an orbital eye-ring. When researching the species, I thought the yellow-legs were Herrings. One distinguishing characteristic, of course, is their skinny yellow legs. The Herring’s are dark grey with pink overtones. Outside of the limbs, I find them difficult to distinguish. Their eye-rings I cannot distinguish in photos, though God crafted the Yellow-legged Seagulls to have red eye-rings that match the mark on their beak during breeding; and the Herrings, a deep yellow ring. Yellow-legs also display a whiter head in autumn and disperse a deeper call that is nasal.

Yellow-legged Seagull at Rock of Gibraltar @ Val J. Lee

The yellow legs breeding range is centered around the Mediterranean Sea. Here is my video with them flying about Rock of Gibraltar with a view of the Mediterranean/Atlantic:

In North Africa, the yellow legs are common in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. “Recent breeding has occurred in Libya and Egypt. In the Middle East a few breed in Israel and Syria with larger numbers in Cyprus and Turkey.” European colonies run along the Mediterranean coast and have spread north into central and Western Europe.

Yellow-legged Gulls courtship is similar to many birds. The damsel will beg food from her wooing suitor. The skinny yellow-legged gal will plead in a hunched-posture. She will toss her bright pretty head and move her bill up and down so her guy gets the message. These gulls mate for life by Jesus Christ’s design. Couples normally breed in colonies and females will lay three eggs from mid March to early May.

There have been reports of gulls attacking people who come to close too their nesting areas. In one area of London, postal deliveries had to be suspended. They are strong birds. I can testify to this from observing them war with apes.

Yellow leg nests are a sparse mound of vegetation built on the ground or on cliff ledges. Their eggs are incubated for 27–31 days and the hatched fledge or fly at 35–40 days. Nests are defended vigorously. This is true with most bird families.

If a couple makes a successful home, they will return the following season.

Seagulls start breeding when age three and can live for 40 years.

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Seagulls do like to be stationed near fast food suppliers and recent studies reveal many now prefer city-life to sea-life. A few will attack people for the delectables in their hands.

Here is a video of a Seagull robbing a store of its Cheese Doritos:

Yellow legs are omnivores (eating whatever is available). Of course, we all know they are a scavenger bird … I must be blunt. They love rubbish and hunting suitable prey in fields or in coastal areas. They will rob smaller gulls and other seabirds of their catches.

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Please click here to learn of God’s personal love for you:  letter-to-bird-enthusiast

My video of Gibraltar, France and Spain: Gibraltar, Paris and Spain:

Gibraltar, Paris and Spain

*Info gratefully gathered from various web sources.

Through the Looking Glass of Val Lee – Western Tanager

Western Tanager (male) @ Val Lee

What a joy it is when I come across these spectacular, brightly hued birds. Until lately, there have been many in Idaho. This is where I shot the photos and video for this article.

My heart broke when it became known to me that a Western Tanager, Piranga ludoviciana, died in my yard courtesy of one of our two cats. My husband and son decided, minus any hesitation, that it had to be Cassidy who loves only me and hates everyone and everything else. They assumed that sweet Alfredo, who loves everyone and everything, would never kill such a pretty bird. I, of course, defended my cat with my two cents, being poor in defense, and simply let it be known that they are both avid hunters. This is certainly the case though they are declawed, that is, they cannot dispense their front claws. Being on the elderly side, and owning this deficiency, they can still pounce and kill in an instant.

Both cats covet trespassing birds and that cannot be denied. I love and feed the various flyers and consider them part of our property. I had no idea a Western Tanager had become linked to the bird gang on Lee’s land before its demise.

Western Tanager (male) @ Val Lee

I tried to figure out why the ravishing Tanager had come our way. They are attracted to feeders holding oranges, grapes and dried fruits, but I do not provide these fruits for our outside, fly-by diners.

Tanagers also partake of growing berries; however, my raspberries had not yet ripened. Maybe I have plenty of insects in my yard, being they are a delicious delicacy of the Tanagers. They will gobble bugs, rushing upon them from behind, as the gourmet creatures soar through the air.

Western Tanagers love wasps and bees as well, this being their first choice in diet. They will get a belly full of them when my trumpet vine blooms, if they stick around for the feast.

They also eat plant matter, incorporating 15% of their diet.

All bug-gorging creatures are welcome in my yard. It certainly appears that I don’t need a sign to tell them so.

My video: 

When these gorgeous birds, crafted by God, arrived in our area about two weeks ago, people talked and wanted to know the species. When walking in the park, my friend Bev told me that she spotted this yellow and orange bird and wanted to know what it was. I wrongly replied that it was probably an Oriole. They can vary in color within orange and yellow tinting, and the Bullock’s Oriole resides here. Within a few minutes, another friend pointed out a Western Tanager that landed a few yards away. I quickly realized this was the type of flyer Bev had spotted originally. Within a day or so, we saw them flying everywhere in the park.

Western Tanager (male) @ Val Lee

These elegant, western beauties are classified as a Tanager (Thraupidae). They have flip-flopped between being Cardinals (Cardinalidae) and Tanagers. I must say, they certainly do not own the distinctive Cardinal cone-shaped beak. They were thus categorized due to their plumage and vocalizations, which was supposedly found to be similar to Cardinals.

There were 240 birds that were classified as Tanagers, but things are in a muddle currently. Apparently some of these birds require new name tags. They are being shoved from one bird family to another, being reassessed via the AOU—American Ornithologists’ Union.

Despite how man classifies or un-classifies this ave, I have to confess, I do not see why they dubbed the Western Tanager as a Cardinal. I observe their plumage not being similar to Cardinals, but actually to Golden Finches. To me, the Western Tanager is simply a medium sized, colorfully crafted, American songbird, graciously provided for us by the LORD Jesus Christ.

God has manufactured Western Tanagers and all His creatures with unique dissimilarities. He did not form birds so they could fit perfectly into ornithologists’ classifications.

Western Tanager (male) @ Val Lee

Western Tanager adults can be described as displaying a pale, stout, pointed bill. Their underparts and wing bars are yellow. Males expose a bright red to bright orange face and a yellow nape, shoulder, and rump, with black upper back, wings, and tail. In their duller, non-breeding plumage, the head has no more than a reddish cast and the body possesses an olive tinge.

Females display their own distinctions with a yellow head and an olive hue on their back, with dark wings and tail. When shutterbugging, I never noticed any females. Perhaps they were tending the home nest. I say this, noting the male birds were flying in and out of a coniferous fir tree, and it is in these trees that these lifetime lovers prefer to nest.

The dead, male Western Tanager in my yard was found next to our blue spruce. I wonder if the poor fellow had a family.

The Western Tanager’s song consists of short phrases and you might think you are detecting an American Robin; however, the Tanager voice is hoarser and rather monotonous. They seem to say “pit-er-ick.”

The Western Tanager flies northward to its happy nesting grounds in May, making their homes in coniferous or mixed woods across western North America, from the Mexican-American border. They can migrate as far north as southern Alaska. It can be noted that they are the northernmost breeding Tanager.

Like many aves, the Western Tanagers mate for life. You will view no elaborate aeronautical courtship display. They are not showoffs. However, a flirting female will flutter her wings toward a suitor to gain his attention. This type of sign language can also be implemented as the queue for him to personally feed her during their courting days. This “feed me,” dating behavior, is common among birds.

The book of Ruth, in the Bible, is a romantic book. You find the story of a godly man by the name of Boaz, a land owner. One day his heart goes out to an impoverished woman by the name of Ruth. He extends kindness by offering her some bread and dip. Having been informed of her unfaltering reputation, he praises her for being a woman of chastity, and a woman who exercises sacrificial love. Later, she flitters his way, letting him know she is interested in a marriage proposal, at which time, he cheerfully complies. Unfortunately, a villain lies in the way. Once “he” is removed from the picture, they marry and live happily, ever-after.

This divinely, appointed relationship was completely orchestrated by God. Because this couple feared God, He allowed them to be grafted into the ancestry line of Jesus Christ.

The vibrant, happy, singing couple of Western Tanagers will engage in tweet talk with short, song notes of admiration. Their solid lifetime bond may form on wintering grounds or during migration.

The enthusiastic pair will build a flimsy cup nest on a tree branch, usually in a conifer for their arriving, sweet, wee bairns. They lay four bluish-green eggs with brown spots. The papa of the nest eggs, establishes and defends home and property (territory) by singing and chasing away intruders. Gestation or incubation is 13 days, and the young fledge or fly at seven days of age.

These birds migrate south in August, wintering in Southern California, Central Mexico and Costa Rica.

Their life expectancy is around eight years.

Western Tanager (male) @ Val Lee

Psalm 104, in the Bible, uplifts the God of creation who sends forth springs in the valleys that flow between the mountains and provides drink for every beast of the field, including the birds of the heavens that lift up their voices among the branches. To learn more about God who created you uniquely, and provides for you, please click here:

letter-to-bird-enthusiast

I have a couple of cat stories about Cassidy and Alfredo at my other website under the category of “cat story.”  Please click here: vallee

*Info gratefully gathered from various web sources.