Between 1840 and 1920, this mostly inland gull nearly became extinct. People decorated hats with its feathers, collected its eggs and developed its habitat. Then the western populations increased: reservoirs with islands providing safe nesting were built, more agriculture provided grain, insects and rodents and growing town dumps provided more to pick over. It takes about six molts over three years for this gull to finally grow the feathers of a breeding adult.
Published Oct. 28, 2009, in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle. Text by Barb Gorges, photo by Pete Arnold.