Most folks think of migratory birds returning from their winter in Africa or some place as the sign of spring. For me it’s the screeching gulls.
Gulls and April arrive at the same time. The moment April’s lawns are no longer covered in snow, the gulls return from whatever open water they’ve been hanging out at. Squawking, screeching and calling, they start their racket (courtship, it’s called) at around 4 am in the morning and pretty much don’t let up until their babies can fly. So basically all spring and summer.
I know that for many people, this means interrupted sleep for a few months. For some reason, I can sleep through gulls crying at godforsaken predawn. Some magpie trying to chatter-warn a cat will wake me up and keep me up, but gulls yammering away at each other soothes me.
Herring gulls are losing their coastal habitat so they come to the cities. Here, there are flat roofs, often with gravel, that mimic the lost nesting areas on the coast. So up on our roofs they go, sitting on the edges, spying for mates and enemies. And because the birds have become vulnerable, they are now a protected species.
My neighbors will wistfully dream about being able to take a shotgun to the noisemakers, who also crap on everything and dive-bomb passers-by and even peck at you if you get to close to a youngster that didn’t have the good sense to stay on the roof until it could fly. Life’s hard for some of the chicks. They are also good eatin’ for crows and magpies.
Still, gulls manage to raise some to adulthood, and having watched them outside my office windows for years. I have to say they do so with a lot of tenderness and cooperation.
So if it’s April and if it’s daylight, there’s this: