Why giving seagulls the eye could save your snack


birds / Thursday, August 8th, 2019

We all love a treat or two on our hols including a delicious bag of chips. But your dream trip to the beach can soon turn into a nightmare when the seagulls get a whiff of your dinner. Gulls will cherish those chips as much as you do and that could mean that an expanding waistline isn’t your only issue.

Why giving seagulls the eye could save your snack

Menacing seagulls looking for food

Seagulls around the country have become a serious menace, pinching from shoppers and diners in coastal locations. The birds have been known to steal from shopping trolleys and they are intelligent enough to choose the right locations around which to lurk including the neighbourhood chip shops.
But there is hope on the horizon! A new study suggests that aggressive seagulls are more likely to stay away from your food if you stare at them!

Staring at seagulls

Seagulls can be incredibly aggressive in their pursuit of a meal and that makes them a major hazard. However, a recent study by the University of Exeter has demonstrated that seagulls tend to hold off if you give them the eye. It seems that it takes seagulls 21 seconds longer on average to launch an assault on your food if you are looking at them. Of course, you have to know they are there in order to do that and the gulls can be stealthy too.

Cornish seaside towns

The researchers conducted the study in Cornwall at seaside towns. A bag of chips was displayed and the time it took the birds to steal the food was recorded. The birds took longer to approach the tasty chips when they were being watched. Seagulls are clearly intimidated by people watching them and this makes them less keen to steal.

74 seagulls were monitored during the study. When researchers stared at them, only 27 birds attempted to steal a chip and they generally took longer to approach than when nobody was looking. It’s interesting to note that the birds are so aware of human behaviour and what it means.

Why don’t bird’s like being watched?

Further investigations will be required to deduce why some of the birds were less bothered by being stared at. Their bold attitudes may be due to their personalities but could also be the result of being fed by people in the past. Those signs telling you not to feed birds are there for a reason! Seagulls learn quickly and might be emboldened by a successful attempt to swipe a treat.

Keep them peeled!

If you are spending time by the coast or live in a coastal town, it is advisable to keep your eyes peeled. Gulls are increasingly looking for easy meals. Your fish and chips or barbecues provide the perfect poaching opportunities. The populations of gulls in urban areas are growing and they can be a real nuisance. But many gulls won’t approach humans and you just might be able to intimidate most of the more daring birds just by staring at them.

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