When I was settling into my new digs here in Salt Lake City, walking to and from Liberty Park during my lunch-hour, driving around the city, and hiking on the weekends, it struck me as strange that there would be sea-gulls as part of the natural fauna for this mountain area…even with the Great Salt Lake being present. My life experience, to date, involved gulls only existing or living near the oceans. While it is no longer unusual, to me, to see them flying about, even with snow blanketing everything during its season, it still seems a bit strange….
In an effort toward learning more about my new home-town, I read a couple of books on the history of the Salt Lake area and the Mormon pioneers. One of the books, The Great Salt Lake, by Dale L. Morgan, detailed the “miracle of the gulls,” and the almost revered place the birds hold with the faithful of the Mormon Church. Long-story-short is that the Mormon settlers’ crops were being destroyed by crickets, the gulls suddenly appeared one morning and dropped out of the heavens by the tens and hundreds and thousands and consumed the crickets, the crops recovered, and the people survived…and the Mormons blessed and praised their god for his providence in rescuing them from crop-failure and certain starvation. There is a monument memorializing this gull-salvation in the form of a giant and open-winged gull perched on an arch at State Street and South Temple in downtown Salt Lake City…only a couple blocks from the temple. Morgan also tells us in his book that, while there is a local taboo against causing any harm to befall the birds, it is also against the law.