Patrick Robinson
Scott DePew and his family have enjoyed coming to the beach in West Seattle for years now and feeding the seagulls. They have come to know many of them, given a few of them names and always delight in their behaviors.

SLIDESHOW: Scott DePew and his West Seattle gull friends

Scott Depew is a West Seattle resident who loves to feed seagulls and brought his family down to the beach on Sunday April 14 to do just that.

By Scott DePew

Our daughter has experienced the Duwamish Head and Alki beaches since before she could crawl. We would bring a picnic lunch to our outings, and it is from the sandwich crusts that our family grew into what it is today.

At first we had some friendly pigeons and sparrows. Then came 'little-big squawk', a medium sized black bird with a yellow beak that would return over and over. And then came our favorite friends, the seagulls.

The gulls would gather around us, and would later seem to anticipate our next visit by greeting us before we even found a place on the sand. It wasn't long before a few tried to get our attention from the air by hovering over our heads. And that's when the game started. They would fly toward us from random directions in hopes of getting the bread before another could get there first.

I tried different types of throws: underhand, overhand, left-to-right toss, and right-to-left toss. Ironically, I still use all of those throws today, but in the end, it was always the 'fliers' that got the most bread. They still hang around even after eating six loaves of white bread.

The whole family feeds the birds now a days, and our feeding style depend on the beach. On Alki beach, the birds are so comfortable with us that we feed them by hand. And at the Duwamish Head, we throw the bread into the air where it is caught by skilled 'fliers'. Although we get pelted by sea water from the wings and gullets of 'fliers', we've been successful at dodging "bird bombs."

Our friends have very distinctive traits: 'Flash' likes to fly at top speed during the game, 'Batty' is blind as a bat but tries to catch just the same, and 'Junior' is eager but still young. Numerous others are recognized by their trust and physical features, like 'Fluffy', the one with the neglected head feathers.

Sometimes our picnics are invaded by a brown rat braving the open sand for a fallen bread ball, a loose dog running freely, a river otter scampering up to the rocks with a fish, or by a bald eagle flying out to open waters. But our friends always eagerly return.

Most seagulls would sooner bite the tail feathers off another before sharing a meal, and some choose to squawk until the sun goes down. But to us...they have become family.

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