We blasted down to the North Carolina coast for a quick visit with family at a beach house a few days ago. I decided to check out the sea birds to see how they measure up on the Avian Interest Scale, my totally subjective judgment about which birds are awesome (corvids, raptors) and which are a snooze (pretty much anything else).

So I took a few walks on the beach at Top Sail Island, NC and met some critters. First, a ring-billed gull. He gets points for actually being named after an obvious marking, unlike so many other birds. (I’m looking at you red bellied woodpeckers.) I also met a laughing gull, so named because it must delight in tricking obsessives like me into spending hours on the internet trying to figure out what it is. Laughing gulls have red beaks, which this one clearly doesn’t. It turns out, however, that when these guys are off the love market, their beaks go black. That’s an awesome system. If people did the same thing, dating would be sooooooo much easier. Another point for the gulls.