Subject: Hawks and Gulls
Date: Nov 11 13:02:05 1994
From: MBEB1215 at - MBEB1215 at

About three or four weeks ago I posted a message about

an unidentified hawk I had seen on the grounds of my school.

I thought it might be a goshawk because of the habitat and

size. Michael Price responded that it was certainly possible

but with the warning that Red-tailed hawks can be very


This morning I was in the same area. As I emerged from

the woods, I surprised a hawk not twenty feet away, feeding

on an unfortunate juvenile gull. The hawk flew towards an

area I had seen one in on two other occasions. I assumed it

was my elusive friend.

I got some good looks at a clear, lightly colored upper

breast. Then, when it screamed indignantly at me, I knew it

was a Red-tail.

Later, as I was returning to the scene with the school

camcorder, I saw a second smaller raptor fly from a tree

about two hundred yards from the gull carcass.

I got about two shots of the Red-tail flying from tree

to tree, and I have two or three of its calls on the audio

track. I can hardly wait to show my fourth and fifth grade

naturalists the gory video of the gull carcass, if not the

carcass itself.

On another related note, I have been trying to develop

an identification key for the gulls found at my school. I

want to make it easier for my adult volunteers and students

to identify the gulls we see.

Last year, I identified Herring, California, and Ring-

billed gulls with a fair degree of confidence. I made up a

key to separate those species based on size, bill markings,

eye and leg color, etc.

Now I am seeing gulls with noticeably lighter wing-tips.

One of the things which helped me identify the others was

habitat descriptions. But Peterson has no such description

for Thayer's and Glaucous-winged gulls. Are they likely to be

found away from water, on a school play-field? Any input will

be appreciated.

Michael Brown

MBEB1215 at

Puyallup, WA