I live here. I clean up after you. You invade my home every summer and complain about what a nuisance I am. Sure I sometimes leave an occasional wrapper from the bag of chips I stole, or I accidentally tag your car with some extra special sauce. I do, however, clean up after you nightly. Those pizza boxes don’t empty themselves, you know. Did you know I can drink saltwater? I bet Livingston never told you that. Life was so much easier for gulls in the 1970s.

So why all the haters out there? I am a resourceful bird. I am keenly aware of what you are doing. Some of you are pretty laid back. Your kids talk to me, toss me snacks, and admire my handsomeness. I am friends with a few humans. No, really, I am. Some of you are real jerks. You tease me with your snacks and then yell at me and throw things at me. Some people have no respect for my home. I live here. All the time. Have you ever been hit by a rock or had sand thrown in your face in your own home? Let me tell you it is not fun.

And what is up with all the fish hooks? Many of my buddies have lost limbs from those things. Have you ever tried standing on one leg in the winter and not being able to switch to the other leg because there isn’t one? Did you know we do that? Keep one leg tucked up to try to stay warm? Or we hang out in the ocean trying to keep warm or nestle down and look like one of those Easter peeps. How embarrassing. Oh, did I mention I am a New Hampshire gull, and the water gets down in the low 30’s? When the wind chill is -28, the ocean feels pretty good. How is that North Face down jacket treating you?

Do you know something else? I am loyal. I mate for life. I take care of my kids well beyond my patience sometimes. Let me tell you about the young gulls. Sometimes they don’t shut up. You feed them, and then two minutes later they are yelling for more. They also have brown feathers. Have you noticed that in the summer I am a glorious white? Look at me in the winter. I turn into a freckled mess. Did you ever notice that? My spouse and I defend our turf with passion. I have never eaten my neighbor’s chicks. But I did see George eat one of his neighbors. God bless little Joey. He was never going to make it. He was chick #3, and he was pretty much doomed the day he hatched. His sister Josephine sure is thriving. I see her down at the strip all the time.

My name is Z81. I was born on Appledore Island off the coast of Maine. Did you know Appledore Island is a gull breeding ground? Google The Gulls Of Appledore. We recently made it into The New York Times. There is a team of scientists and volunteers that band our legs as babies and study us. I am a herring gull, 8 years of age. There are all different types of gulls; great black-backed gulls share the island with us. By the way, if you come to visit us wear a helmet because we will dive bomb you (and I am not kidding). As I said, we are incredibly devout parents and will protect our nests with zeal during the breeding season.

I think I have said enough for today. One thing I ask is that you take a minute to get to know a gull. We are not the A..holes you think we are. Pardon my language. I am just tired of being so misunderstood.

Caveat: If you throw a loaf of bread on the beach, you will see the worst of us. We behave the way your kids do when a pinata breaks. Keep that in mind. Find a banded bird; they are the coolest. Or befriend an injured gull. We all have a story to tell. This will not be the last time you hear from me.

Sincerely,

Z81- Z for short

You can find me at The Wall in Hampton, NH or on Instagram

More info: Instagram

Z81, The Narrator

Z81

Z81 & Little Z

Z81

Z81

Jenny

Seadog

The Preacher

Z81

Banding Babies on Appledore

Not Food

Bill

K68

Z81

Art

K68

Appledore Photo

Mates Photo

Z81 Photo