Understanding the seagull and its behaviour | Gulls Facts & Info

Understanding the seagull and its behaviour

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22nd December 2017

Seagulls will be forever associated with seaside holiday towns. However, these highly adaptable birds are increasingly to be found further inland in our urban cities, sitting and roosting on our roofs and buildings.

Seagulls are found on every continent of the world. This hardy species of bird can survive the coldest climates, including Antarctica and the Arctic, as well as warmer temperatures like deserts, and on tropical islands such as the Galapagos.

The three main species that are sometimes seen as pests are the Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull and the Greater Black-backed Gull. These strong sea birds are quite large - their wing span can reach a whopping 165 cm, which can be incredibly threatening when they launch a surprise attack on your Mr Whippy ice cream or portion of fries.

Everything you need to know about the seagull

You would expect to see these birds fishing the ocean and nesting on coastal cliffs. However, with the decline of fish in our oceans many are moving inland and taking up residence in built-up urban areas and often landfill sites. Here food is easy to steal and an abundance of human rubbish or abandoned food waste becomes an all-you-can-eat bird buffet.

Once a seagull has a safe roost and a never-ending food source, what is there left to do but settle down and start a family? Breeding pairs will mate for life, usually between March and April. Generally nests are then built and eggs are laid in May. Urban gulls such as the Herring Gull will use the same nesting site year on year.

Fun Facts About Seagulls

Mating behaviour

Seagulls usually mate for life, although sadly if the pair cannot produce healthy chicks they may divorce. Divorcees can be seen as less attractive to first time daters, often being left single and alone for a few nesting seasons.

Seagull science

Seagulls are one of the few birds in the world that can drink fresh and salt water. They have a special gland near their eye that removes the salt from their system.

Communication

Gulls are strong communicators, signalling one another with specific calls and even body movements.

Food for thought

Gulls are omnivores and will eat fish, eggs, insects or molluscs. They will consume pretty much anything including human refuse, and even other birds like pigeons.

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