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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


October 4, 2003 - Issue 97


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Raven Helps the People


SeagullLong ago, near the beginning of the world, Seagull was the guardian of the sun and moon and stars, of fresh water and of fire. Seagull hated people so much that he kept these things hidden. People lived in darkness, without fire and without fresh water.

Seagull had a beautiful daughter, and Raven fell in love with her.

Flying SeagullAt that time, Raven was a handsome young man. He changed himself into a snow-white bird, and as a snow-white bird he pleased Seagull's daughter. She invited him to her father's lodge.

When Raven saw the sun and the moon and the stars and fresh water hanging on the sides of Seagull's lodge, he knew what he should do. He watched for his chance to seize them when no one was looking. He stole all of them, and a brand of fire also, and flew out of the lodge through a smoke hole.

SunAs soon as Raven got outside, he hung the sun up in the sky. It made so much light that he was able to fly far out to an island in the middle of the ocean.

When the sun set, he fastened the moon up in the sky and hung the stars around in different places.

By this new light he kept on flying, carrying with him the fresh water and the brand of fire he had stolen. It fell to the ground and there became the source of all the freshwater streams and lakes in the world.

The Raven flew on, holding the brand of fire in his bill.

The smoke from the fire blew back over his white feathers and made them black.. When his bill began to burn, he had to drop the firebrand. It struck rocks and went into the rocks. That is why, if you strike two stones together, fire will drop out.

RavenRaven's feathers never became white again after they were blackened by the smoke from the firebrand.

Print and Color Your Own Seagull Picture

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Bonaparte's Gull
Larus philadelphia

Bonaparte's GullGeographic Range

Palearctic, Nearctic, Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean, Ethiopian, Neotropical: Larus philadelphia breeds in Western Canada and Alaska from July to October. Bonaparte's gulls migrate south to spend the winter on the Pacific coast from Vancouver Island to points southward. Some migrate southward as far as Panama. They are also present in a number of European countries as well as Japan, Israel, and Morroco.

Physical Characteristics

Mass: 200 to 250 g.

Bonaparte's GullBonaparte's gulls are slate-gray headed with a very small black bill and bright orange-red legs and feet. They have a white terminal band on tail feathers and secondaries. In young birds, the wing has a dark-bordered appearance, with flashy white wing tips. Adults reach 43 to 53 cm in body length.

Natural History

Food Habits
Small fish, crustacea, snails and marine worms are staple foods of Larus philadelphia along the coast. However, inland in summer they feed chiefly on insects they capture in the air, pick from croplands, or gather from the surface of lakes or ponds.

Bonaparte's gulls nest in great numbers on the marshes of Manitoba and to the North. Two or three eggs in a scrape, the eggs are grayish to greenish brown, marked with dark brown and lilac. Their eggs are 4.8 by 3.3 cm on average.

Bonaparte's gulls' voice can be described as a harsh high pitched see-whee, low pitched kuk-kuk-kuk. They produce many conversational whistled notes when feeding.

Bonaparte's GullBonaparte's gulls fly buoyantly and ternlike, with the bill held down. They are very active on the wing. Along the coast, where they are more abundant in fall, they feed offshore over tide channels and rips and kelp beds. They feed largely by dipping to the surface of the water. However, occasionally they drop into the water, take a few deep strokes, then glide to the surface to flutter in one spot for a moment before taking off again.

Bonaparte's gulls are found in ocean bays, coastal waters, islands, and lakes (Miklos, D. 1994).

Biomes: temperate coastal, freshwater lake

Economic Importance for Humans

This species is beneficial to agriculture, for it destroys insect pests, grubs and worms in the fields and often picks caterpillars from trees.

Conservation Status:

IUCN: No special status
U.S. ESA: No special status
CITES: No special status

Other Comments:

This species is named after a nephew of Napoleon, Charles Lucien Bonaparte, who was a leading orthologist in the 1800's in America and Europe.

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  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.  

Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.

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