A Guardian Seagull

seagull on rail

By Charles Forsher

October 13, 2014

This morning, as I’ve been doing for many months now, I visited a pocket park near my home that overlooks a very old railway drawbridge. Today would likely be the last day I could sit and enjoy the park before our rainy season begins. Of course, Seattle’s rainy season consists of days on end of rain—sometimes light, sometimes heavy—that can cancel plans for a long sit on a park bench.

In good weather, one of my favorite pastimes at this particular park is feeding the local crows. I bring two ounces of sesame seeds and a few slices of bread with me for each visit. Over the past week some seagulls took note of my beneficence to the crows and began interrupting our get-togethers. While not interested in the sesame seeds, they’ve gobbled up the crow-sized pieces of bread and blocked the crow’s access with shrieks and half-raised wings. My crow friends now seem terrorized and reluctant to help themselves when I throw the bread.

Today, on this last possible morning for our sunny park bench tradition, the seagull disruption continued. This time I waited patiently for the seagulls to lose interest and fly off. After they’d gone, I noticed several crows waiting nearby as if in secret, so I resumed breaking up my wheat bread and tossed some out. I am not by nature a praying man, but here I petitioned the unseen to please hold back the seagulls so I could feed the crows one last time.

I quickly collected a tribe of a half-dozen crows. After a brief hesitation, and as if my prayer had overcome their own terrors, the crows merrily set to consuming the strewn bread.

Before long a lone, large white seagull appeared overhead and circled several times before landing on a thick wood railing at the edge of the park. I continued spreading small pieces of bread to the crows, and they kept eagerly snapping up the pieces tossed.

The seagull just watched us.

Amazed, I took the second slice of bread and shared it around. By this time the morning fog had evaporated and a late morning sun cast its shadows wide. My crow friends flew away sated but the lone seagull stood sentinel on the wood railing. Staring. This vigil continued for the longest time.

Had some agency conveyed my request to this bird?

Only when a smaller, gray gull flew in and landed on the empty brick patio did the white seagull shriek, in a manner strongly suggesting to the newcomer, ‘Leave…NOW!’ The interloper departed but the lone gull continued to stand and watch. By now I had the uncanny feeling this seagull had answered my prayer.

Not long after, the seagull disappeared and I was left alone once again. I did not see it fly away.

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Author Charles Forsher is a PNA Village member.

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