Monday 26 September 2016

Complaints against seagulls soar as residents forced to go into their gardens armed with umbrellas

Geraldine Gittens

Published 11/07/2016 | 11:09

Seagulls scavaging for food
Seagulls scavaging for food

An animal welfare group is currently experiencing a spike in calls from concerned Dubliners who are afraid of seagulls.

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Dublin’s Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals is now receiving up to 20 calls every day from people who are either concerned about baby seagulls who apparently look hungry, or adult seagulls who are noisily swooping into their gardens.

The charity’s spokesperson Gillian Bird said there is no reason for people to be concerned however, since the adult gulls, like other birds, are currently teaching their babies to fledge, or preparing them for flight.

The baby birds spend time on the ground where their feathers and wing muscles will develop over a few weeks and enable them to fly.

“It’s the time of the year. It’s happening all over the city, everywhere, with all birds. People don’t complain over robins, magpies, just seagulls because they’re very big birds.”

“What happens is the parents start to boot the baby birds out of their nests, up high on chimney breasts and on flat roofs. The birds are nearly full adult size but they’re a very grey colour and they might not have all their feathers.”

“They have to spend weeks on the ground learning to fly. Parents wil come and feed them, and then they’ll call the bird saying ‘come and get it’. The parents try to swoop down, and the stroppy teenagers, the young one or the fledgling, is the teen who won’t leave the couch to go to the dinner table.”

Concerned city residents are calling the animal shelter’s call centre to report that they fear they’re being attacked by the adult seagulls.

Ms Bird said: “We get a lot of complaints because people fear they’re being attacked. They’re usually pretty OK when you explain. All they’re doing is flying down and squawking at them. We always say if you’re going out in the garden, just bring an umbrella.”

“They’re not aggressive in any way, they’re just feeding their babies.”

Ms Bird added that residents should not feed the baby gulls.

“By humans feeding the seagulls you’re basically interfering with the natural process. If you have a seagull who’s being fed by humans, it’s going to be happier to settle near humans.”

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