July, i9o 4 [ THE CONDOR 99 About the Utah Gull BY REV. S. H. GOi)DWIN IfE return of the gulls brings to mind a curious situation in relation to the specific name of the sacred bird of the Latter Day Saints. If we may judge from the variety of names applied to these birds, which come in such num- bers-in the spring--into the valleys of central Utah, more or less of uncertainty exists as to the species. In an article by H. L. Graham, in ?opular Science 11/[onthly, Vol. 52, these birds are called the American herring gulls (Larus arguehiatus smithsonianus), a sub- species, by the way, which was eliminated from the Check-List by the Eleventh Supplement. Olive Thorne Miller in "A Bird-Lover in the West," writes inter- estingly of some of the habits of the Utah gull, which she calls the "Her- ring Gull" (L. a. smithsonianus?) It is not surprising that those who write bird articles and books of a popular character should sometimes be less than exact when applying the accepted nomen- clature to "our little brothers of the air": the object in view may not seem to re- quire accuracy in this respect. The matters which receive the attention of such writers are the habits and haunts and individuality and life of the birds. But that a recognized authority on the subject should, apparently, slip in this matter does afford occasion for surprise. In that excellent and most serviceable work, "A Handbook of Birds of the Western United States," Vernon Bailey has the following in connection with the Franklin gull (Larus franklini): "* * * In Utah their services are so well appreciated that Brigham Young used to offer up prayers that they be sent to de- stroy the grasshoppers that infested the land. One often sees flocks of fi[ty to five hundred catching grasshoppers on the wing, wheeling, diving, and rising, till at a distance the white flock suggests a wild flurry of snowflakes." This reference to the local history, and to the habits of the Utah gulls, is correct, but the name is not. The writer, of course, does not know what gulls earned the lasting gratitude of the Mormon people in the pioneer days of '48--the story of which was told by President Smith in the "Deseret Evening News" of February x4, x9o3--but, if they were the Franklin, then that species has been replaced by another, for the gulls which now find their way into these valleys by the thousands, are the Cali- fornia gulls (Larus californicus). I have seen thousands upon thousands of these gulls during my six years' residence in the state; I have photographed them repeatedly; I have watched them for hours as they circled about the newly plowed field, or followed close behind the plowman, as blackbirds do in some localities, or sunned themselves on the ridges of the furrows after a hearty meal of worms; I have studied them as they fared up and down the river in search of dead fish and other garbage, or assembled in countless numbers in some retired, quiet slough where they rent the air with their harsh, discordant cries and demoniac laughter, or sailed on graceful wing in rising circles till lost in the deep blue of heaven, and I have yet to see a Franklin gull. As I write, the skin of a beautiful specimen lies before me. The bird was shot out of a flock of fifty or more just like it, and there were hundreds of others of the same species about me at the time--California gulls, every one. And, not only has no Franklin gull come within range of my observation, but, so far as my knowledge extends, the species has not been taken in Utah. Mr. H. C. Johnson, of American Fork, this state, who has had several interesting arti-
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