Unlikely Places to Bird: The Parking Lot

February 22, 2023 by Beary Birding

Any good birder will tell you that the second best place to look for gulls is in the parking lot (with the third being by the ocean and the landfill claiming first place... more on that later). Your average civilian might guess that seagulls more often occur by the sea. While some "true seagulls" like kittiwakes do spend much of their lives on the sea, many familiar gulls like Ring-billed and Herring spend them in the McDonald's parking lot—as grand a place any bird could wish for.

A fleet of parked Ring-billed Gulls

Featured birds:

Ring-billed Gull

Aside from the delightful gulls you've just learned occur in inland parking lots, and the introduced "city birds" (European Starling, Rock Pigeon and House Sparrow), the open habitat may provide a good vantage point for raptors and the abundant city birds provide adequate food sources for Cooper's Hawks and Red-shouldered Hawks.

Instead of a bunch more words, the rest of this article will be photos from my favourite parking lots with captions. Hope you enjoy!

House Sparrow with a snack from the plaza

Red-shouldered Hawk just lovin' it

House Sparrow deliberating the left turn

Northern Mockingbird making responsible choices

Ring-billed Gull changing a light bulb