Monday, April 1, 2013

Episode 155 (4-1-13): Gulls

Click to listen to episode (2:06).

Please see below (after the transcript and show notes) for links to news and upcoming events.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of April 1, 2013.

This week, we feature another mystery sound, chosen just for April Fools’ Day.  Have a listen for about 15 seconds, and see if you can guess what’s making sounds resembling those that often follow a funny, successful trick.  And here’s a hint: you might hear sounds like these on April Fools’ Day if you’re GULL-ible.


If you guessed a Laughing Gull, you’re right!  The Laughing Gull is one of 16 gull species whose occurrence has been documented in Virginia.  Some, like the California Gull or Iceland Gull, are rare visitors to the Commonwealth.  But others—such as the Laughing Gull, Herring Gull, Ring-billed Gull, and Great Black-backed Gull—are common around Virginia’s coastal waters, and some species are found at times around inland fresh waters.  Besides their distinctive sounds, which can vary considerably, gulls are popularly known for gathering in large groups, for their hovering ability, and for scavenging for food around fishing boats, plowed fields, parking lots, and landfills.  Thanks to Lang Elliott for permission to use this week’s sound.

For other water sounds and music, and for more Virginia water information, visit our Web site at, or call us at (540) 231-5463.  From the Virginia Water Resources Research Center in Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.


A Laughing Gull rookery (nesting colony) at Breton National Wildlife Refuge in the Gulf of Mexico offshore of Louisiana.  Photograph by Donna A. Dewhurst, made available for public use at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Digital Library,, accessed 4/1/13.

Acknowledgments:  The sounds of the Laughing Gull were taken from the Stokes Field Guide to Bird Songs-Eastern Region CD set, by Lang Elliott with Donald and Lillian Stokes (Time Warner Audio Books, copyright 1997), used with permission of Lang Elliott, whose work is available online at and the “Music of Nature” Web site, (as of 4/11/13).

Sources: Information on gulls in Virginia was taken from the Fish and Wildlife Information Service database maintained by the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, online at; A Guide to Field Identification of Birds of North America, by Chandler S. Robbins et al. (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2001), pp. 140-149; and Life in the Chesapeake Bay, by Alice Jane Lippson and Robert L. Lippson (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006), pp. 38-40, 116-118, and 308.

Here are some other sources of information on Virginia birds:

*Virginia Society of Ornithology Web site at;

*Cornell University Lab of Ornithology’s “Bird Guide” Web site at;

*Cornell lab’s “Birds of North America Online” at (a subscription is required to use this site);

*E-bird Web site at, maintained by the Cornell Lab and the Audubon Society (at this site, you can find locations of species observations made by contributors, and you can sign up to contribute your own observations).

Recent Virginia Water News
            For news relevant to Virginia's water resources, please visit the Virginia Water Central News Grouper, available online at

Water Meetings and Other Events
            For events related to Virginia's water resources, please visit the Quick Guide to Virginia Water–related Conferences, Workshops, and Other Events, online at  The site includes a list of Virginia government policy and regulatory meetings occurring in the coming week.