Monday 5 December 2016

These intelligent, ruthless gulls have no fear of man

Gulls' aggressive behaviour is making headlines, but the birds are now at their most territorial as they protect their young

Joe Kennedy

Published 26/07/2015 | 02:30

HIGHLY TERRITORIAL: Herring gulls will fight humans for control of territory when they are raising their young
HIGHLY TERRITORIAL: Herring gulls will fight humans for control of territory when they are raising their young

One newspaper story last week reported "giant" seagulls killing sheep and buzzing a motorcyclist in Kerry. But whatever about the sheep attacks (worrying) and the biker's scare, there are no "giant" seagulls about.

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These bandits are herring gulls of around 54 to 60cms in length with wingspans of 128 to 148cms, according to Collins Bird Guide (Killian Mullarney et al). They can weigh up to a kilo but there are no giant mutations, BirdWatch Ireland says.

The gulls have become more noticeable and aggressive because for the past month or so they have been feeding chicks and fledglings and are acutely protective of them. The parents' constant search for food in urban landscapes can become desperate.

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