Hartlaub's Heartthrob
Gull 314


Well, I have a new favourite bird at the centre. Swift terns may be my favourite species, but my favourite bird for the day is a juvenile Hartlaub's Gull 314.  With pristine new feathers and dark button eyes, this bird is really pretty as far as gulls go. In gull speak I'd imagine it's got a really fancy name, like Georg or Victoria.

Even so, it's kind of weird to get attached to a gull. They're so common and so average in size, they hardly command the excitement of the penguins. I, on the other hand, love them. I think it's the fact that gulls fit in my tiny hands and don't require combat mode every time I pick them up that makes them lovely. And I enjoy squeezing the tube past their tiny air holes like threading a needle, trying to do it in such a way that they don't freak out and vomit. It requires mental discipline more than physical, and that's right up my alley. 

But back to 314... Maybe it's the way he shivered and locked his beak shut when I went to give him antibiotics that made him look so precious and vulnerable. Or the fact that for lunch he stole a kelp gull's fish tail half his size and sat there for ten minutes swallowing it... you could see the hint of fins protruding from his beak as he sat with a loglike neck wider than his body, not quite sure if the tail should go up or down.  Others laughed and said he was greedy. I think he's pretty darn intelligent. He's supposed to get formula twice a day to gain weight... nothing's going to achieve that faster than swallowing your body weight in food in one go. So maybe it was one of those things that made him so easy to pick out of a crowd without even checking his number. Or maybe, as mentioned before, he's just a pretty bird.