Check out the chick

By KRISTIN KINNAMON

Herald Writer

EVERETT – The binoculars are out in Snohomish County Council offices. But Big Brother is not watching you – staff members are just keeping an eye on a growing family of gulls living on the roof outside.

Two adult gulls first took up residence on the sixth floor of the County Administration Building in mid-June. The mother soon laid two eggs in a shady corner. In between council briefings and citizen questions, staff members would stop in the lobby to check on the expectant parents.

One Monday, they came back from the weekend and found baby No. 1, council receptionist Betty Hymas said.

A week later, egg No. 2 is still keeping them waiting. County communications coordinator Fred Bird thought he saw two beaks under momma one afternoon and rang a little-used bell outside council chambers. It was a false alarm.

Bird, appropriately enough, is the true birder on staff. He explained that the gray-and-white "seagull" is actually a glaucous-winged gull. When staff members were concerned that their adopted baby gull might meet the fate of lunch for a hawk or crow, Bird built a box to shelter the toddler.

"They instinctively know to hide," he said of the chicks. "Life is dangerous."

Bird, founding president of the Washington Ornithological Society, has warned his doting co-workers that young gulls in the wild have a 90 percent mortality rate.

Luckily, the county doesn’t have all its eggs in one basket. There’s a second nest on the west side of the roof. The Mission Building, which serves as the county courthouse, has three nests in the belltower and a half-dozen others around the roof. Bird counted at least eight chicks there last week.

The burgeoning downtown nesting colony may be the result of overcrowding and disturbance at the main glaucous gull colony on Jetty Island, Bird theorized. The gravel roofs are sort of like the beach, he said.

Bird expects baby No. 1 will spend another month or so literally on top of the county’s business before he starts testing his wings.

"He’ll fly on the roof and then off the roof," Bird said.

If they have their way, an office full of the county’s top elected officials and staff members will be watching – and waving good-bye.

You can call Herald Writer Kristin Kinnamon at 425-339-3429or send e-mail to

kinnamon@heraldnet.com.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Arif Ghouseat flips through his work binder in his office conference room Paine Field on Monday, Dec. 10, 2018 in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Paine Field Airport director departing for Sea-Tac job

Arif Ghouse, who oversaw the launch of commercial air travel at Paine Field, is leaving after eight years.

NO CAPTION. Logo to accompany news of education.
Public school enrollment still down, even as rural districts grow

Smaller districts in Snohomish County seem to be recovering more quickly — and gaining students — than their urban counterparts.

Angelica Montanari and daughter Makena, 1, outside of the Community Health Center of Snohomish County Everett-Central Clinic on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Amid patient woes, CHC of Snohomish County staffers push for a union

Doctors and nurse practitioners are worried about providers being shut out from clinical decisions, which hurts patient care.

Students make their way after school at Edmonds-Woodway High School on March 12, 2020. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
After Edmonds schools internet outage, staff ‘teaching like it’s the 1900s’

“Suspicious activities” on the district’s network delayed classes and caused schedule havoc. “Kids are using pencil and paper again.”

NO CAPTION NECESSARY: Logo for the Cornfield Report by Jerry Cornfield. 20200112
Retooling drug laws, protecting octopus and honoring a cactus

It’s already Day 26. Here’s what’s happening in the 2023 session of the Washington Legislature

April Berg, left, and John Lovick
Snohomish County legislators talk race, policy in Seattle

Rep. April Berg and Sen. John Lovick chatted about Tyre Nichols and education at an event kicking off Black History Month.

A suspect removes a rifle bag from a broken rear window of a Seattle police car on May 30 in downtown Seattle. An Everett man, Jacob D. Little, 24, has been charged with the theft of the high-powered rifle stolen from the car. This image is from the criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court. 20200904
Everett man sentenced for stealing police gun in Seattle protest

Jacob Little, 26, now faces second-degree murder charges for allegedly killing a man in Renton in August 2020.

Switzerland delegate Markus Herrmann listens while 12th grade students speak with him during a special event set up for their AP Comparative Government class at Glacier Peak High School on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023 in Snohomish, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
European delegates talk American culture with Glacier Peak students

Representatives from 18 different EU countries made a stop in Snohomish during their US tour.

Community Transit is leasing a 60-foot articulated BYD battery electric bus this year as an early step in the zero emission planning process. (Community Transit)
Community Transit testing 60-foot electric bus

The agency leased the BYD K11M for $132,000 this year as the first step in its zero-emission planning process.

Most Read