When I close my eyes and think of being on the beach, I feel the sun warm on my face and hear two distinct sounds…the crashing of the waves along the shore and the cries of the gulls. In my mind, I see the gulls, along with sandpipers, running along the edge of the surf, flying overhead and begging for scraps. Gulls will put on an absolutely wonderful aerial show for you if you have something to bribe them with; we found they are particularly fond of French fries.
I haven’t seen the birds depicted in this vintage gulls drawing. They are west coast birds and I’m an east coast sort of gal. The bird pictured in flight is a short-billed gull. It is also called the American Mew Gull. Fully matured adult birds are mostly white with pearly gray wings that become almost black as the feathers get closer to the tip. At the very tip of their wings, they have a spot of white. Their bills, feet and legs are a greenish yellow color. They can be found from lower California in the winter to British Columbia and Alaska. They typically nest in Alaska.
The bird shown perched on a rock outcropping is a Heermann Gull. They also have a somewhat more common name – the White-headed gull. Unfortunately, these birds aren’t that common in the wild and while not considered endangered are definitely at risk. In the summertime, the Heermann gull’s head, neck and throat are white. The bill and feet are red but there’s a black spot at the end of their bills. The body is shades of gray ending with black on the tail and primaries. This bird is also typically found on the Pacific coast.
When I found this gulls drawing, my first thought was that it would make an awesome bookmark. The grays and blues of the birds and the sky and the pink sunrise or sunset just seem somehow beachy to me.The dimensions seem perfect for that. It is the work of Chester Albert Reed (1876-1912), a well-known ornithologist who is equally well-known for his bird images. He published a number of books on birds and this gulls drawing is from one he released in 1917.
This image is copyright free and in the public domain anywhere that extends copyrights 70 years after death or at least 120 years after publication when the original illustrator is unknown.