You may remember from a previous message that I am planning a trip to the Great Salt Lake to look up my relatives and visit the California Gull rookery. Well, I haven’t really gone to see the Great Salt Lake yet, but I did get a letter and some pictures from my grand daughter Cecilia Pearl Gull and she lives in Utah. (She prefers to be called Ceci Gull.) She tells me that at this time of the year it is very cold and they are hunkered down trying to stay warm and find something to eat.
Here is the letter she sent:
Dear Grandpa Bob: I take pen in beak to send you this note as to our situation in Salt Lake City and on the shores of the Great Salt Lake. The lake is loaded with brine shrimp, but this time of the year the pickings are slim and the water is cold. Our usual nesting area is on Antelope Island in the middle of the lake and in the summer we get lots of tourists with picnic baskets to help add some variety in our diet. During the winter the pickings are poor and we spend more time around the garbage dumps looking for morsels.
You wouldn’t believe the stuff they have here in Salt Lake City to honor the California Gull. Apparently some years ago there was a big infestation of crickets that came into town and attacked the crops the people had planted. The farmers didn’t know what to do and they were sure their crops would be ruined. The gulls who live here got word about the free lunch and came from all over to gobble up the crickets. The farmers were so grateful that they have put up a big statue with two gulls on top and they made the California Gull the Official State Bird of Utah. Pretty special, but the people still yell at us and throw rocks when we steal their picnic food.
Lots of love and come see us soon, Ceci
Ceci is a special girl and I love her dearly, but she doesn’t know all of the history about the California Gull, and she thinks that all gulls were hatched in Utah even though she was hatched in California at Mono Lake.
Editor’s Note: The California Gull is, indeed, the Official State Bird of Utah because of the incident in June 1848 when the gulls did defeat the crickets. The literature is filled with eyewitness accounts by the farmers and others in Salt Lake City of the flocks of gulls that descended onto the fields to consume the hoards of crickets. In Utah it is referred to as ‘The Miracle of the gulls’and there is an obelisk with two golden gulls on the top in the center of the city.
When you get a chance to visit the SS Jeremiah O’Brien you will see lots of gulls almost any day of the year. The California Gull can be differentiated from the Herring Gull because the California Gull has both a red and a black spot on the beak and yellow-greenish feet and legs. The Herring Gull has only a red spot and pink legs and feet.