Not so guilty Gulls

Gulls have adapted brilliantly to the urban landscape and the presence of humans, so much so that they’re seen virtually everywhere. This has resulted to them, in a way, becoming taken for granted, as they’re often seen as pests, an annoyance and as something of an urban irritant. However, I would have to greatly disagree with this point of view (that’s right, zoology notes coming out with the controversial topics).

First of all, let me just clarify that there is no one species of bird called a ‘seagull’, this term is actually used to cover pretty much every gull species anyone ever sees. There are in fact, seven species of gull that regularly breed in the UK (as well as others that migrate here) and the one most commonly seen, and called a ‘seagull’, is the herring gull (Larus argentatus). However, we also have black-headed gulls (Chroicocephalus ridibundus), great and lesser black-backed gulls (Larus fuscus and Larus marinus), as well as other species. So, I thought that I would just clear that up, that a ‘seagull’ is not an actual species but a term used to refer to all gulls.

Now, why are they not so guilty or, more accurately, why I disagree with the common view of these awesome aves. Gulls belong to the family Laridae and the suborder Lari, and are incredibly impressive birds. If you have ever been lucky enough to see a greater black-backed gull, it is impossible not to be amazed by the sheer size of them (they are the largest species is the family), with the adults having a wing span of up to 1.7 meters. Or if that doesn’t do it for you, how about the smaller, less aggressive, dare I say cheeky, black-headed gull. Across the seven species in the UK, or the plethora of other species around the globe, you’re bound to find a species that takes your fancy, as they vary in size, appearance and behaviours.

I think that because they are so commonly seen, people often forget how cool these birds are. They’re entertaining to watch as they do their ‘rain dance’ on the ground whilst looking for worms and their impressive size is certainly noticeable when they’re seen amongst other birds. Again, it is my opinion, but I also find their complete lack of fear and over confident nature somewhat charming. You walk past them and instead of fleeing like most creatures, they look at you as if they’d happily take you on… and win! And I find that hilarious. Or the damn cheekiness of them, that they’ll happily steal a chip from your dinner on the seafront without a second thought. The sheer audacity of these birds is brilliant!

Just because they are so common does not make them any less fantastic to observe and study. This goes for a number of our common species, I am just using the gulls (one of my personal favourites) as an example to show that you don’t have to travel miles to exotic reserves to see brilliant animals. And that even our common city animals can be just as endearing and entertaining. So, I reiterate the point I made at the end of my last post, get out there and watch the birds and wildlife, just don’t forget to enjoy even the most readily available species!

Thanks for reading! A fairly brief post today as I just wanted to share my opinion on these incredible animals and the stigma that often surrounds them. I hope you enjoyed the post and I’ll see you next week.

Three Herring Gulls flying over a choppy sea on a grey and gloomy day. Sadly, not the sharpest photo in the world but I still like it 🙂 Taken with a Nikon D80



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