NEWS AND COMMENT – NECASTLE, UK: A couple of female flatmates, Georgina Gray and Helen McKeever, have been pestered by a couple of seagulls for a long time. They peck at the window daily and it starts at 6:30 AM.
Gray said that they don’t know what they want. And that they just sit there all day. She likens it to a horror film. Perhaps she is thinking of Alfred Hitchcock’s film ‘Birds’.
The story is reported in The Times. The newspaper does not try and find a solution or a reason for what appears to be bizarre behaviour at least for the flatmates.
I don’t think it is bizarre. A quick search on the Internet reminds me that seagulls like many other birds including magpies, protect their young in the breeding season.
And it is almost certain that the seagulls have their nest nearby. They see the women in their flat through the window (I suspect the flat is on an upper floor, perhaps a penthouse). They regard them as threats to their young. And therefore, they try and attack them to chase them away. Seagulls are predators and I’ve seen one eat a rabbit whole!
All they can achieve is to peck at the window pane. No doubt they are frustrated because this couple of ladies don’t go away which is their objective. Which is why, in turn, they keep coming back. That’s my interpretation.
So, what is the solution? From a human perspective the solution would be to move the nest. But seagulls are a protected species and the nest can’t be removed as I understand it. And the seagulls can’t be harmed either.
Perhaps a solution would be to close the curtains on the window or if there are no curtains simply block up the window on the inside (cardboard?) so that the seagulls cannot see the inhabitants. Without seeing the ladies, they wouldn’t see any hostile presence and therefore they might feel that there was no hostile presence and they can stop trying to do the impossible.
In desperation, Gray said she looked up how long seagulls live and found that they live to 20 years of age! She was hoping that they would die off very quickly and leave her alone.
I’m surprised, though, that she didn’t actually do a bit more research because the answer is on the Internet.
I’ve seen magpies chase away domestic cats sitting on the ground minding their own business, often in front of their owner’s home (see video above). The magpies’ behaviour is the same; it is defending their young. You can’t see their nest but it will be nearby.
An animal, be it the human-animal or an animal nearby, even minding their own business, is considered to be a threat to these birds. They protect their young with great commitment and courage.
They actually risk their lives because on one occasion I saw a cat become so frustrated and irritated by the attentions of a determined magpie that they jumped high into the air and grabbed the bird as they flew away (see above). It was a great act of athleticism by an otherwise sedentary domestic cat which ended the bird’s life leaving their offspring to die of starvation.