It was a cloudy, wind-swept late winter day on Lake Ontario. One lone merganser braved the chilly depths in search of life-sustaining fish. Two tough guy Ring Billed Gulls stood on shore eyeing passing pedestrians to see if any had life-limiting (but tasty) bread. No one did. What happened next was the classic case of the bullied, the bullies and the bystander.
Why Barbara Colorosa Would Not Be Pleased with Me
Several years ago, Barbara Colorosa wrote a bookwith the title that I cribbed for this post. In it, she describes that without the passive support of the bystanders, bullies would be unable to assault the bullied. Shamefully I must admit in this case, I was one of those do-nothing bystanders.
Or was I? Perhaps by documenting their bad behaviour (however natural) and by sharing it with the world I am not a complicit aide to the bullies. I hope so. Frankly, I not sure what I could have done, anyway, given I lack webbed feet, waterproof feathers and a sharp bill.
Red Breasted Merganser Fishes with Success for Afternoon Meal
While I was watching, the female Red Breasted Merganser slid back up from the icy depths with some delectable prey trapped tightly by the tiny teeth-like notches in her bill. Unlike some birds that swallow while underwater, mergansers often eat their meal while up in the air.
The gulls reacted immediately. Lifting effortlessly into the air, they both dove repeatedly at the merganser, trying to steal the fish.
She had to really fight for her rights. She swam like a torpedo along the surface of the water. She swerved and ducked. Eventually, she won! She and she alone got to eat the by now somewhat ragged and bedraggled fish.
Have you seen gulls or eagles trying to steal a bite? Please share your experiences with a comment.