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Re: two questions

Linda -

Although I am no gull expert, I had reason at one point to research the pink 
blush that is sometimes reported on the undersides of gulls and terns.  As I 
understand there are a couple theories about the pink in the breast.

The first theory is that the brood patches of these seabirds is so densely 
covered with blood vessels that the pink shows through the white feathers.  
I've seen brood patches on a couple of larger songbirds in the hands of banders
(Brown Thrasher comes to mind first) and I can see where that might be possible.

The second theory is that the oil secreted by the uropygial gland at base of 
the tail of these seabirds is pink, the oil itself is pink.  Depending on the 
density of the layer of oil on the bird and the vigor and consistency with 
which the bird has been preening, a pink cast or blush could be visible on the 
feathers, especially the white feathers of the breast.

Also keep in mind that being a bird, especially a seabird, isn't the cleanest 
job in the world.  The bird could have been stained by some foreign substance 
like blood in the water at a feeding site.

So the answer is many of the gulls and some of the terns can and do 
occasionally show some pink on the breast.  Some have more of tendency to do so 
than others (apparently Franklin's gull and I think Sabine's Gulls are reported 
to have a pink cast in breeding plumage sometimes, as well as, of course, 
Roseate Tern). 

Hope this helps. 

Donna Slyce Bailey
Winnsboro, SC