Parts of southern West Virginia and eastern Kentucky were greeted with hundreds of visitors of the avian variety this past week.
In Logan County, it was a sight that many described like a scene out of the 1963 Alfred Hitchcock thriller “The Birds.” Hundreds of what most residents thought to be seagulls swarmed the area near Wendy’s, the American Legion Post 19 and Midelburg Island in Logan. Some residents also reported flocks of them at the Fountain Place Mall.
The birds made their grand appearance in Logan on Friday, Feb. 12, and were still in the area in force the following day. Some say they saw small numbers of the birds appearing in parts of the county in the days leading up to Friday’s invasion.
The gulls were also seen in parts of eastern Kentucky, including South Williamson and Pikeville.
According to reports by WYMT and other eastern Kentucky news sources, the birds were identified as ring-billed gulls per the National Audubon Society field guide on North American birds. According to the guide, the gulls are one of the most common in North America and they often migrate to Kentucky during winter months.
Migration to West Virginia and the extreme parts of eastern Kentucky like South Williamson are listed as uncommon during any season. Crystal Little, who owns the Sky High Geckos & Exotics exotic pet shop in Williamson, explained that the gulls often appear as part of their migration path, but usually not in such large numbers.
“If anyone is curious about the seagulls that have appeared in Logan, Williamson and South Williamson areas, these are ring-billed gulls and herring gulls,” said Little in a Facebook post over the weekend. “I actually see these gulls around this time every year, just not as many; they usually don’t stay very long. We are actually a part of their migration path just as with the Canadian Geese. We are more or less just a rest stop for them. So, let’s just enjoy these beach bums while they’re here and wish them luck on their journey back home.”
The Audubon guide notes that ring-billed gulls are thoroughly adapted to civilization, noting that flocks are “often seen resting in parking lots, scavenging scraps around fast-food restaurants or swarming over landfills.” That might explain why they chose the particular spot near Wendy’s in Logan, as they could be occasionally seen chowing down on sea salt fries that workers would throw out to them.