Being at the bottom of the food chain

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Dickson Smith

Oct 15, 2022, 10:39:17 PM10/15/22

I've come to realize over the past 4 and half weeks, working the potato and sugar beet harvest in Idaho for the first time, that you're never too old to learn something new. Besides learning about what it takes to get potatoes from the field to the store, I've also had the chance while driving one of the field trucks to observe and get a few photos of Ring-billed gulls and several hawks species and an occasional Prairie Falcon, taking advantage of the mayhem the harvest creates for the local vole and other rodents that live in the fields. You talk about in your face hunting. The gulls have learned that as the tractors go through the fields digging up the potatoes and or beets that the rodents are going to be available in huge quantities and easy pickings. I never knew that Ring-billed gulls would actually go after rodents but believe me they do and with lots of enthusiasm. I've been able to watch 100's of gulls gulping down dead voles, from just 10 to 15 feet away from my truck, that have been crushed by equipment, to chasing after live voles trying to escape to some kind of refuge. Catching small ones to voles as large as 5 to 6 inches long and gulping them down alive. Gezzzz what a way to go, live down the throat of a gull!
 I've observed gulls following tractors disking or during the harvest, but always from a distance and assumed they were just getting worms and any insects that could be found. Now I have come to realize what a voracious hunter gulls can be.  I have carried my camera along on several of the days I've been working and have been able to get a few photos I've attached of these events.
Dickson Smith

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