Sunday, August 4, 2013
Thousands of gulls roosting in Elmwood parking lots
The Elmwood area Laughing Gull roost has reformed, but with a twist- the birds are now roosting at night in the shopping center parking lots instead of on rooftops.
I estimated about 5000 gulls this evening, driving through the parking lots from 10:30-11:00 pm. The main gatherings were 2000 in the Elwood Shopping Center parking lot, and another 2000 in the Academy Sports parking lot. There were smaller numbers in the Home Depot and AMC Elmwood Theater parking lots. Nothing in the Walmart parking lot, but there were still cars there (they close at 11 pm).
In previous years, this roost has spent the early part of the evening shifting from roof to roof, and seemed to often (always?) eventually settle for the night on the Walmart roof, from which they made an impressive exodus in the morning. Last year a pair of local observers estimated 60,000, during the early evening staging, later in the season. Numbers are presumably just now starting to build for this fall.
In October last year, Wal Mart put wires on their roof to deter the birds, and Academy began using a taped raptor call. The House of Shock also began its usual pyrotechnics that month, and it was not clear which of these factors caused them to abandon the area around Halloween (which they also did the year before sans efforts to deter them, apparently due to the House of Shock alone).
The birds will mess up these parking lots fairly quickly with feathers and excretia. It could be really interesting to watch how this situation develops, and the shopping center owners handle it.
The Elmwood roost is described on p. 14-15 of Birding Made Easy- New Orleans (which I entitled The Ghosts of Elmwood- but this year's situation has notched up the freakishness, with the birds milling back and forth in the dim parking lot security lights).
for a copy of Birding Made Easy- New Orleans, email me at email@example.com, or look for it at the Garden District or Maple Street Book Shops.