It’s no surprise to see gulls soaring and wheeling over The Cove, but Crossroads visitors are just as likely to see gulls flying over our Big Creek and Ida Bay preserves. Presumably, the gulls are seeking food.
According to folklore, gulls can smell food or at perhaps possess a sixth sense regarding food (which seems to be about the only thing gulls regard.) However, animal behaviorists in many countries have staged elaborate experiments to disprove these ideas. The unanimous conclusion is that gulls depend on the sense of sight for finding food. Clearly, gulls can see at least as well as humans, but because they can fly, they can see farther than we can.
Also, they are intelligent enough to make connections, learn, and remember. Over many generations, gulls have come to associate fishing boats with food. Here in Door County, gulls have learned that in spring, a tractor and freshly opened fields means a banquet of fresh insect grubs and frightened rodents. Urban gulls know that fast food restaurants often offer up French fries and hamberger buns. [At Crossroads, gulls rarely clean up after school field trip lunches— alert crows beat them to the spilled chips, corn curls and apple cores.]
This is the age of specialization. Apparently, individual gulls specialize when it comes to food finding. Some gulls cruise the lake or docks; others prefer farmland or parking lots.
Because gulls are ubiquitous, one or two usually are airborne in the vicinity of just about any potential food source. If a gull sees a small portion of food, it lands, gulps it down and moves on.
But if a gulls happens on a bonanza like, for example, a big school of fish, the bird gives what researchers call its “food finding call”. Other gulls within the vicinity—meaning as far as 3 miles in any direction—respond. Interested gulls wheel and call above the potential feast. Their noisy circling no doubt attracts other gulls. When the gulls descend on the food, they make such a racket, even more gulls show up to join the party.
Most of our local summer gulls are Herring gulls or Ring-billed gulls. Here in the Great Lakes region, they are far from being “seagulls,” but they are on a see-food diet. When they see food…. they eat it..
We invite all to picnic at any of Crossroads three preserves. Naturally, we expect (and are grateful) that our visitors leave no litter, but a stray potato chip or half eaten peanut butter sandwich will probably disappear in short order.
During our Parking Lot expansion, spaces will be available much of the time, but when heavy equipment is present, we ask that visitors park at the Maintenance Building (first drive east of the main entrance) or at the Astronomy Campus parking lot (intersection of Cove Road and Utah Street).
Crossroads at Big Creek is made up of three properties: Ida Bay, The Cove, and the Big Creek Preserves. The Collins Learning Center, located at 2041 Michigan Street , is open 1:00-3:00 Tuesday-Saturday during the summer. Restrooms and trails are always open.
Wednesday, August 2 10:00 Family Program: Heritage Garden
Visit the 1890 garden to enjoy the flowers and vegetables which Wisconsin settlers used for food seasonings and home remedies. Meet at the Collins Learning Center. Free and open to the public.
Thursday, August 3
10:00 Family Program-Insect Safari
Take the Insect Safari. Use a hand lens and collecting net to learn about the insects in the fields of Crossroads. Meet at the Collins Learning Center. Free and open to the public.
Tuesday, August 8
10:00 -11:00 Family Program-Glaciers
Explore the “Gifts of the Glaciers: The Great Lakes.” Discover how the Great Lakes were formed and learn about the creatures that live in the inlands seas. Meet at the Collins Learning Center. Free and open to the public.