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Hi,
   While competing in our chapter's Birdathon last Saturday, we had a
Laughing Gull on the beach with a pronounced pink wash on the breast
and belly. He was standing in a mixed flock of other gulls and terns
numbering 300 to 400 birds. His bill was in the process of turning red,
otherwise, he appeared to be in full breeding plumage. Others of his
species in this mixed flock were in varying states of molt and age, yet
only this one bird showed any pink coloration. It's pure speculation to
be sure, but it seems there has to be some genetic or hormonal reason
for these pinkish gulls and terns to show up among their less colorful
brethren. If, as seems to happen, they only sport this color variation
during breeding season, then that certainly lends credence to the
hormonal theory. It seems the next question to be answered is whether
or not these birds are more successful in attracting a mate. If so, we
may begin to see more of them in the future.


David Hartgrove
Conservation Chair,
Halifax River Audubon
Daytona Beach, FL

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