Outdoor Radio: Winter Gulls

A young Glaucous Gull found at GROW Compost just a few days before our visit. / © Bryan Pfeiffer

One summer, somewhere in the vastness of the Arctic, perhaps on a cliff along the coast of Greenland or maybe on a rocky island in the Arctic Ocean, about 2,000 miles from Vermont, a pair of Glaucous Gulls built a nest of sedge, moss, twigs, and maybe some stray feathers. The female, like her mate, frosty gray and white, laid a clutch of eggs, speckled and spotted to resemble the tundra. And from one of those eggs hatched a gull that went on to make a remarkable autumn journey … to a compost pile to spend the winter here in Vermont.

Bryan Pfeiffer looking carefully for a Glaucous Gull. / © K.P. McFarland

We joined Bryan Pfeiffer, a VCE research associate and avid birder, at Grow Compost in Waterbury to witness a winter gull spectacle. Hundreds of gulls (and other birds) hang out amid this huge expanse of compost enjoying an endless feast, including a few rare arctic visitors like Glaucous Gulls.

Join us as we learn about these amazing birds. They’re smart, resourceful, and graceful – but don’t call them sea gulls! There are inland species, even some that live in the desert. They’re found on every continent on the planet – spectacularly successful.

Listen to the show




Flock of gulls coming to the compost piles to feed. / © K.P. McFarland

When trucks came, the gulls did too. / © KP McFarland

Great Black-backed Gull calling among Herring Gulls on the compost pile. / © K.P. McFarland

Herring Gull swallowing food whole. / © K.P. McFarland

Flock of gulls flushed into the air by an arriving vehicle. / © K.P. McFarland

Outdoor Radio is produced in collaboration with Vermont Public Radio with support from the Jack and Dorothy Byrne Foundation.

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