Why Do Seagulls Hang Out in Parking Lots?

iStock / Dylan Zheng
iStock / Dylan Zheng

I live in Philadelphia, which is a quick enough drive to the Jersey Shore when traffic is good, but still pretty far from the ocean. Yet, the parking lot of my local grocery store is almost always full of seagulls. What gives?

Well, ornithologists will point out, “seagulls” are more accurately called gulls and while they do like to be near water, they don’t strictly live by the sea. The Ring-billed gull prefers the interior of the country, and some never even get near the ocean. The grey gull is usually found on the western coast of South America, but heads away from the shore and into Chile’s Atacama Desert to breed. Even the Herring gull, which the Cornell University ornithology lab calls the quintessential “seagull,” can be found pretty far inland during both the summer breeding season and the winter. 

Pennsylvania is attractive to gulls, according to the state’s game commission, because it sits between two major gull population centers: the Atlantic Coast and the Great Lakes. It’s a good spot to make a temporary home (or even a permanent one—both Ring-billed and Herring gulls are year-round residents in some areas), and there’s plenty to eat.

“Gulls come to Pennsylvania because it’s convenient,” writes Joe Kosack, a Wildlife Conservation Education Specialist with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, “and because it has rivers that are loaded with small aquatic critters they eat readily, hundreds of restaurants that serve fast food indirectly to gulls, and plenty of parking lots to loaf in.”

The gulls are drawn to parking lots mainly for two reasons. The first is food. Gulls are opportunistic feeders and will eat most things that are available to them, rather than specializing in one kind of prey or food. They’ll feed on fish, insects, small rodents, fruits and a lot of things discarded by humans. Parking lots offer plenty of trash and scraps, especially if there’s a supermarket or restaurant there, by way of dumpsters, garbage cans, and people who can’t be bothered to use either of those. Plus, manicured grass and other landscaped patches around the pavement can be good places to look for bugs. 

The second thing that parking lots have going for them is that they’re spacious, open and flat. This allows the gulls to congregate en masse near food sources and gives them clear views in all directions so they can keep an eye out for danger. 

Flamingo Yoga Is on the Itinerary at This Bahamas Resort

Courtesy of Julianna Vezza/Grand Hyatt Baha Mar
Courtesy of Julianna Vezza/Grand Hyatt Baha Mar

In recent years, the practice of yoga appears to have been co-opted by the animal kingdom. A series of programs offering everything from goat yoga in Oregon to cat yoga in Illinois have sprung up, promising a workout that involves communing with non-human participants.

You can now add flamingo yoga to the list. Visitors to the Baha Mar Resort in the Bahamas are invited to attend yoga classes featuring a small group of feathered assistants. A total of four pink flamingos—Baha, Lynden, Indy, and Luca—take an active role, climbing over guests and investigating their poses with prodding beaks. A flamingo handler is on hand to manage the birds while the yoga instructor takes care of the human population.

The flamingo cay at the Baha Mar Resort in the Bahamas is pictured
Courtesy of Maddie Winters/Grand Hyatt Baha Mar

Flamingos are social creatures with a large presence, reaching four or five feet in height but weighing just four to eight pounds. A pink flamingo’s color comes from the beta-carotene in the seafood they eat. Without it, they would turn white.

The class is held every Wednesday morning. The cost is $40 and is open to all guests of the three Baha Mar resorts, including the Grand Hyatt, Rosewood, and SLS Baha Mar. There are also private flamingo yoga classes available upon request, or you can just enjoy a daily marching parade. If you can’t make it, consider heading to Manitoba, where Alpaca dance classes promise to give you an equally intriguing vacation story.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

The 10 Most Popular Dog Names of 2019

Veronika7833/iStock via Getty Images
Veronika7833/iStock via Getty Images

Your dog may be one of a kind, but their name could be a different story—especially if your very good girl or boy is named Bella or Max. As we hurtle toward the end of 2019, Banfield Pet Hospital, the largest general veterinary practice in the U.S., combed through its database of pet patients to determine the most popular dog names in America, and which monikers are on the rise.

As usual, pop culture played a big role in pet-naming trends: Game of Thrones may be over and done with, but fans are still paying four-legged tributes to the epic series by naming their pets after favorite characters; 24 percent more dogs were named Sansa in 2019 compared to 2018. The Avengers made a superhero-sized impact, too, with 44 percent more dogs being named Spider-Man and 12 percent more canine Thors in the world than there were last year.

Is your pupper’s name among the country’s most popular? Take a look at the list below to see the 10 most popular dog names of 2019.

  1. Bella
  2. Max
  3. Luna
  4. Coco
  5. Charlie
  6. Daisy
  7. Lucy
  8. Bailey
  9. Buddy
  10. Rocky

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