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Matt:

I've lived near the ocean for almost 50 years. I have never, never seen a baby seagull. Where are they?

-- John P., Coronado

Yeah, you have, John. You've seen lots of them. You just didn't realize what you were looking at. Baby gulls come off the nest just a few weeks after hatching, and by then they're the same size as the adults. But it takes three to four years for a gull to acquire its adult plumage. A "baby" gull just off the nest will be nearly all dark gray; with each year's molt, it grows more adult white plumage. So you can eyeball a gaggle of gulls and make a pretty good guess about when each of the juveniles was hatched by the amount of gray left on its body. But maybe what you're saying is you've never seen a gull's nest with babies in it. Now that I could believe. Gulls commute around the county to feed, sleep, and nest. For feeding they've learned to go where people are; for nesting and sleeping they pick the most remote, quiet spots they can, which includes niches along the harbor and Mission Bay and our offshore islands.

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