Monday, August 9, 2010

PostHeaderIcon Brootality on Alcatraz is dished out by the ton, not the pound or the ounce


Warning: This post contains highly detailed images of a dead bird

Not all gulls survive to be the subject of a thoughtful, well composed portrait.


Newly departed birds like the fellow below appear just about every day on Alcatraz. Collectively, adult western gulls treat their young with positive br00tality:





I am grateful that the flies that colonized this guy appeared to be of the common variety. As veterans of the Alcatraz autumn are well aware, the island suffers from a miserable fly season.

The culprit is a strange and exotic insect that specializes in breeding deep within the corpses of cormorants and perhaps other waterbirds.

Once these grubs take to the wing, they terrorize human beings. Other flies actually fear human beings. These guys, by contrast, will evade your swats and slaps positively undeterred in landing on your hair, your neck, your cheek or any other part of your body that might serve to gross you out.

I've had one on my eye. No joke there. God knows what it wanted with my eye.

Rogue Cormorant Apprehended!

This guy was apprehended by our concerned NPS staff. Call it an immature Brandt's cormorant. That's what it is.


The happy fellow was arrested while gleefully marching along the road that stretches from the dock up to the cellhouse. The bird meant no harm to anyone and was apparently healthy but was friendly enough to make itself very suspicious.

Brandt's cormorants are notoriously timid and flush at almost any cause.

This one, however, was so comfortable in the presence of human beings that apprehending it was about as simple as throwing a towel over it and scooping it up.

Finally, acting upon the fact of this friendly bird being both strong and uninjured, and the fact that a gregarious disposition is unusual for a wild animal but is not any kind of cause for arrest, the bird was allowed to reluctantly leave its box and wander free.

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