Blizzard Birding at Jamaica Pond

A few hours after Boston got hit with two feet of snow, I went to Jamaica Pond to see how the birds were doing. While big chunks of the Pond were frozen, there was a large central area free of ice. All the water fowl had congregated near the northwestern shore. I saw Canada geese (Branta canadensis), American coots (Fulica americana), mallards (Anas platyrhynchos), mute swans (Cygnus olor), ring-billed gulls (Larus delawarensis), and, surprisingly, a pair of pigeons (Columba livia).

Birds on Jamaica Pond after a blizzard
Congregating birds on Jamaica Pond

Canada goose flapping its wings
Canada geese

American coot standing on one leg
An American coot showing off its green legs.
Mallards on snow
Mallards resting on snow-covered Jamaica Pond
Mute swans folded up.
A pair of mute swans nestled in the snow.
Ring-billed gull
One of many ring-billed gulls.

All was quiet until I noticed a sole great black-backed gull make its move on a ring-necked duck.

Gull grabs duck and attacks it.
The gull starts pecking at the duck. Note the massive size difference between the two birds.

The gull, the largest in North America according to Sibley’s Guide, kept pecking the duck in the mid-section and chomping on its wings. The duck struggled but was unable to escape. While other geese and ducks were mere feet away, they did not come to the ring-necked duck’s aid, nor did they raise an alarm. I was unable to spot another ring-necked duck so this one may have been the only one of its species and the gull may have singled it out knowing that no bird would come to its defense.

The gull grabs the duck by a wing.
The attack continues.

After a couple minutes, the gull dunked the duck under water, sitting on it and drowning it.

Gull dives at duck in water
After the drowned duck manages to surface, the gull jumps on it once again.

The gull then kept chomping on the duck until it was able to bite off chunks. This was nature at its most brutal. The kill was slow and methodical, and in sharp contrast to the calm of the snowy pond.

The gull dracks the duck back onto the snow
The gull drags the duck onto the snow to finish it off.

More winter birding at Jamaica Pond:

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