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Gulls At Mono Lake

The California gull (Larus californicus) colony at Mono Lake is considered one of the biggest in the world. The breeding population is estimated between 30,000 and 40,000 birds. They come to Mono Lake—most to Negit Island—in March and April to nest. Their chicks typically hatch in June. Mono Lake provides gulls with brine shrimp and flies in great abundance. Negit Island is far enough from the edge of land that it provides isolation and protection against such predators as coyotes (Canis latrans). That protection was lost in 1979 when the Mono Lake water level dropped low enough to create a land bridge to Negit Island. Coyotes raided the nests and drove off the gulls, which did not return for the next six years. A wet year in 1985 allowed the lake to again turn Negit into an island. Gulls have since returned and continued to nest in great numbers on Negit Island.

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