Grand Marais Is Missing A Gull...and possibly their marbles

For the last few years, there's been a somewhat jarring billboard that a birder can see on their way from the Twin Cities towards the North Shore.  It's at the Pine City exit and I always noticed it on my way to Duluth, MN.  It's an ad for the lovely town of Grand Marais but it had a HUGE gull on it.  Here's a picture from the Grand Marais site: Picture 1

Many birders driving north had noticed the gull because it's a photo that's been blown up. As you go past at 65 mph, you notice a large bird shape, then glance and find that it's some sort of gull and it's just barely real enough that you think, "Holy crap! What species is that?  It's too big!"

Then you realize it's a fake gull and continue driving and scanning for red-tailed hawks.

Apparently, this infamous gull has been stolen.  It's such a big deal that it's a top story on the official Grand Marais website.  They either want the gull itself back for a reward, or some smart person has decided to take the story for some publicity and want people's thoughts on what happened to the bird.  You can submit gull sightings, you can follow the gull reports on Twitter, you can even write up a story of what you think happened and win a free vacation (which isn't bad, it's a great spot for birding).

I'm not exactly sure what species the gull was on the billboard, it had yellow feet and they have a TON of ring-billed gulls--so a ring-bill would make sense.  But herring gulls are regular in Grand Marais.  You can find unusual species of gull like the slaty-backed gull that showed up in 2006 (wow, was that really three years ago?  Sheesh time flies).

Grand Marais has some tools to help you find the a Missing Gull Poster.  Here' s an excerpt:

Picture 4

Granted, the poster is in black and white, but does that gull above look like it has gray wings?  Those look rather dark.  As a matter of fact...if this is based on the actual photo that was on the billboard...was the gull in fact a lesser black-backed gull or greater black-backed gull?  Where's Alvaro Jaramillo? We need him to help in the gull id!

Grand Marais also has some photos to help you id the missing gull, but all of their photos are of several different species of gulls...and they keep referring to the missing bird as a "seagull"--never mind the fact that is no such bird is called "seagull" in any bird identification book and Grand Marais is located on a lake (okay it's Lake Superior, one of the great lakes, but still--not the sea).

I think I know what happened with their billboard gull.  It was frustrated at being misidentified and misnamed and flew the billboard to a landfill where hardcore birders would be able to properly id it.