Back in the 70’s I remember hearing about a group of lesbian seagulls from Santa Cruz who had reproduced via parthenogenesis, is there any truth to this legend?
I am not sure about the specific gulls from Santa Cruz that you have in mind but homosexual behavior has been observed in 1,500 species and well documented in over 500. Same-sex behavior is a nearly universal phenomenon in the animal kingdom, common across species. In fact - no species has been found in which homosexual behavior does not exist.
In mating Giraffes, nine out of ten pairings are observed between males. Eight percent of rams chose other rams to mate with in spite of sheep being available. Ten-fifteen percent of western female gulls exhibited homosexual behaviors. Although every male that sniffed a female was reported as sex, anal intercourse among males was seen as horsing around or displays of social dominance. Some researchers suggest that social function of both homosexual and heterosexual interaction is not necessarily connected to dominance, but serves to strengthen alliances and social ties within a flock or species.
Parthenogenesis is a sort of virgin birth, or unfertilized egg that becomes an embryo, naturally occurring in plants, insects, fish, reptiles, and occasionally in birds. I was unable to find the specific lesbian seagulls, who may or may not been capable of parthenogenesis. However, a song was written about lesbian seagulls in 1979 and made famous in 1996 by Engelbert Humperdinck:
The words heterosexual and homosexual were first used as recently as 1869 by Karl-Maria Kertbeny. After he had seen a gay friend commit suicide from being blackmailed, Kertbeny took personal issue with social injustice and published pamphlets arguing that consensual sexual acts should not be subject to criminal laws. Kertbeny coined the term homosexual and was of the first to believe that it was an inborn trait rather than a wicked choice. Nature can be considered wicked or divine depending on the view and gullibility of the observer.
Cawing all Gulls,