Please, Don't Feed the Gulls

Jul 17, 2013

Credit Vern Laux

Many on vacation think it's great fun to feed the gulls. It is fun initially - but like feeding wild animals anywhere, it is a bad practice. It dulls the birds’ innate fear of humans and encourages increasingly aggressive behavior. And it is bad for the birds. Subjecting them to what we humans eat could be the cruelest trick of all.

Gulls of many species - great black-backed gulls, herring gulls, ring-billed gulls, and laughing gulls - have finished with breeding activity for the year and have dispersed from nesting colonies. Many of the individuals hanging out are undoubtedly birds that had success finding food on the very same beach last year and in prior years. Gulls are very long lived. The oldest known Herring Gull in the wild was of a banded bird found dead on the Vineyard, 5 years ago, that had spent over 36 years staying alive.

Vern Laux has more on gulls and their beach-going activities in the Weekly Bird Report audio above.