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Seagull Deterrent

Summary: We look for a seagull deterrent whenever these birds become scavengers and urban pests.

Did you know that the California seagull is the official state bird of Utah? Besides being the name of an 80's rock band, a Flock of Seagulls is a lot more interesting than people realize. For instance, there are over 47 species of seagulls. Although we tend to see them on the beach, seagulls actually find food and nest on the shore or farther inland. In fact, seagulls are often one of the scavenger birds found flying overhead at municipal landfills. High net enclosures are often erected at these sites to protect landfill workers from diving seagulls.

Seagulls are beautiful for their distinct differences from other types of birds. For example, seagulls have webbed feet and long wings. They can range in size from 11 to 31 inches. Their colorful feathers can be pale gray, black, or completely white, as seen on the ivory gull. Male and female seagulls have similar colors. Their offspring usually have brown or gray coloring and can take as long as four years to fully develop into the adult coloration. Young seagulls mature through a series of molts each year before becoming fully-grown.

Seagulls find food by fishing, catching insects, scavenging, and preying on eggs. They eat small rodents and can even drop shellfish from the air to break them open. So the next time you're at the beach, watch out for shellfish falling from the sky.

Here's something I know you didn't know. A seagull can drink both saltwater and freshwater because of a set of glands above its nostrils that filter out salt. This salt is excreted through the birds' nostrils and off the end of their bills.

Seagulls tend to breed on the flat ground of beaches or marshes, building their nests in safe areas, far away from humans. During the day we see them flying above the ocean surface looking for food, but they may nest miles away from humans at night.

Seagull nests are typically made of seaweed, grass, and sticks. The gulls usually have one brood a year with about three eggs per brood. The egg colors can be brown, blue, or green with speckles of gray, brown, or black. The male and female seagulls both incubate the egg, sharing shifts of about three to four hours each. Eggs take between 20 to 30 days to hatch. The male and female seagulls share in the responsibilities of raising the chicks. Chicks usually take between four to six weeks to become independent.

Seagulls communicate with each other through certain movements and calls. These communication activities help gulls to defend their territory, as well as to interact with their chicks.

Although Seagulls are often pests of urban areas, they proved to be a miracle to the first-generation Mormons. During the Mormon's first spring in Utah, crickets began to feed on their crops. The Mormons were in fear of losing all their food and could not do anything to stop the crickets. Seagulls came from the Great Salt Lake and fed on the crickets, saving the crops and the lives of the Mormon community. A golden seagull statue was built in Salt Lake City in commemoration of the miracle of the Seagulls.

Seagull facts:

  • Adult seagulls can live as long as 36 to 40 years in captivity, but typically only live about 10 years in the wild.
  • Seagulls are good swimmers and can walk or even run easily on land.
    The seagull is a protected bird by local, state, and federal governments.
  • Some seagull species migrate in the winter, especially ones that primarily live in the north.
  • The herring gull is the average seagull that a person may see.  It has a yellow bill, with a red spot near the tip.

Seagulls can be pests at places like dump sites and harbors. Flocks of seagulls pose hazards for people operating low-flying aircraft. To prevent seagulls from causing problems in large, open areas, a system of grid wires or net, available from Bird-B-Gone or Bird Barrier, will help keep the seagulls away. For ledges and rooftops, a product known as Bird Coil or Bird-Flite spikes keep gulls from landing. A low-profile product called Bird-Shock is a low-voltage electrical track that discourages roosting and loafing birds.

To keep seagulls from dump sites or other places where they will feed, audio/visual products, noisemakers, and multiple and random sound distress call units such as BirdWailer will help deter seagulls from causing damage.

Some other tactics that may help scare seagulls away are visual deterrents like plastic owls and inflatable snakes, but birds can quickly get accustomed to these products if the products are not moved to new locations every two to three days.

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