California Travel Tips

Why is Our California Seagull Utah State Bird?

Published on: July 03, 2012

Seagulls are commoners among the bird populations of California and you’ll most over see them at California beaches, day or night. You’ll find them nearly every place where the weather is mild, and food is plentiful. They will eat the scraps out of a school yard as kids drop and spill food, or they will wait till beach-goers leave unattended blankets with snacks sitting out. The California seagull isn’t a rare bird, and doesn’t face extinction or other survival issues. So why in the world would the State of Utah name this bird as their very own State symbol? In a word–crickets!

Utah State Bird by common consent  is the California Gull, which Utah Code generically lists it as the seagull. The seagull saved the people of the state in 1848 when hordes of crickets swarmed the land, eating everything in their path. The crops would be devastated and settlers forced to move if not for California gulls. Prayers for help from God were answered, according to records:  “When it seemed that nothing could stay the devastation, great flocks of gulls appeared, filling the air with their white wings and plaintive cries, and settled down upon the half-ruined fields.  All day long they gorged themselves, and when full, disgorged and feasted again, the white gulls upon the black crickets, list hosts of heaven and hell contending, until the pests were vanquished and the people were saved.  After devouring the crickets, the gulls returned to the lake islands whence they came.”

  • A Seagull Monument sculpted by Mahonri MacKintosh Young was unveiled in 1913 and sits on Temple Square in Salt Lake City.
  • Gulls are monogamous and colonial breeders that display mate fidelity that usually lasts for the life of the pair.
  • Divorce of mated pairs does occur, but it apparently has a cost that persists for a number of years after the break up.
  • You can see colonies of seagulls nesting on Anacapa Island in California.
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