Seagulls scare the bejesus out of posties

The posties – postmen and women – of the UK Cornish town, Liskeard, are so frightened of the seagulls dive bombing them to protect their offspring that they have stopped delivering mail to the residents. They’ll will try again the next day if an attack occurs. It is tough for posties as they are already under attack from cats and dogs sometimes, perhaps rarely.

Seagulls are fearless in protecting their offspring
Seagulls are fearless in protecting their offspring. Image: MikeB (free to use).

RELATED: Seagulls have an aversion to the human gaze

The management wrote a letter dated June 20th, to the residents. It is probably the first letter that they’ve received on time (just joking). It reads as follows:

As you may be aware, we are currently experiencing some difficulties safely delivering to you and your neighbour due to seagulls in the area, swooping at delivering staff in order to protect their young. The purpose of this letter is to firstly advise you of the issues we are experiencing, but also to assure you that we will continue to attempt deliveries every day. If on any day we are unable to deliver to you safety, your mail will be returned to the Liskeard depot where it will be held securely until we can attempt delivery again the following day. I appreciate this is not ideal. Please accept my apologies for any inconvenience this may cause but while Royal Mail is committed to providing a consistent daily delivery to addresses, we do place the highest priority on the safety of our employees. Rest assured that we will be monitoring the situation with a view to resuming normal service to you and your neighbour as soon as possible.

There are many instances of seagulls attacking people at the seaside. They grab a person’s chips and there are several articles on this website of people in fear of seagulls. In one instance a man punched a seagull in retaliation, killing the seagull. Grabbing human food makes seagulls smarter.

One Liskeard resident said that the seagulls attack specific people they dislike such as posties and council workers. It may be true as some people retaliate and throw things at them. Perhaps, it is those people who are earmarked for attack! 😎😃

There is an argument that seagulls wouldn’t be so keen on trying to grab human food if their own wild source of food wasn’t so severely jeopardised by human activity. The argument is that there is a shortage of wild, natural food for them and therefore they migrate to the coast to grab you in food. That’s possibly one reason and secondly it probably convenient for them.

This, of course, is an entirely different matter to protecting young but it adds to the public profile of the bold or fearless seagull.

Magpies do something similar for the same reasons. They tend to attack domestic cats outdoors that are minding their own business.

You can tell when they are agitated by the presence of someone’s cat or a fox for example as they chatter loudly.

Other species

Several species of birds are known to dive-bomb or swoop at people who come too close to their nests or young. Here are a few examples:

  • Terns: Terns, such as the common tern and Arctic tern, are very protective of their nesting sites and young. They will dive-bomb and even make contact with intruders who come near their colonies.
  • Plovers: Plovers, like the piping plover and killdeer, will perform distraction displays and swoop at people who approach their ground nests and chicks.
  • Hawks and Eagles: Raptors like hawks, eagles, and ospreys can be very aggressive in defending their nest sites, especially when they have young in the nest. They may dive and strike at perceived threats.
  • Gulls: While seagulls are a common culprit, other gull species like the herring gull and great black-backed gull are also known to dive-bomb people who get too close to their nesting areas.

So in summary, while seagulls are perhaps the most well-known, many species of terns, plovers, hawks, eagles, and other gulls will also aggressively defend their nests and young by dive-bombing or swooping at potential threats that approach too closely.

Other behaviours

In addition to dive-bombing and swooping at intruders, many bird species exhibit other defensive behaviors to protect their nests and young:

  1. Alarm calls:
    • Birds will emit loud, high-pitched alarm calls to alert other members of the colony and scare off potential threats.
    • The calls can serve to rally other birds to join the defense.
  2. Distraction displays:
    • Birds will feign injury or lead the predator away from the nest by pretending to have a broken wing or limping.
    • This diverts the attention of the threat and lures it away from the vulnerable nestlings.
  3. Physical confrontation:
    • Some birds will directly attack and physically confront the threat, pecking or striking with their beaks and talons.
    • This is more common in larger, more aggressive species like hawks, eagles, and some gull species.
  4. Mob attacks:
    • Multiple birds from the colony will team up to collectively harass and drive off a perceived threat, swooping, calling, and even defecating on the intruder.
    • This coordinated group defense is seen in species like terns and plovers.
  5. Nest defense:
    • Some birds will aggressively guard the nest itself, standing their ground and using their body to shield the eggs or chicks.
    • This is a strategy employed by ground-nesting species like plovers.

So in summary, the defensive behaviors can range from vocalizations and diversionary tactics to outright physical confrontation, all aimed at deterring threats and protecting the birds’ vulnerable offspring. The specific behaviors depend on the species and nesting ecology.

RELATED: Two female flatmates terrorised by two seagulls pecking at their window. Why?

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Post Category: Birds > seagulls