Understanding seagulls and how to win the battle against the ultimate chip predator

Understanding seagulls and how to win the battle against the ultimate chip predator

Understanding seagulls and how to win the battle against the ultimate chip predator

Updated 11 January 2017, 12:15 AEDT

Seagulls have become the ultimate chip predators — and a researcher says if the birds can see them, they won't give in.

Silver gulls are the most common breed of seagulls found around southern parts of Australia.

They are also usually the first to land and eyeball you for your food.

"Their main mode of obtaining food is from scavenging along the coastline," Jason Van Weenen from the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources told ABC Adelaide's Drive program.

"They have learned how to scavenge in urban environments and a whole range of different environments."

If seagulls can see food, you will have a persistent, uninvited guest, Mr Van Weenen said.

"When you are outdoors and having some tucker, make sure you don't leave food uncovered if you have plans to walk away."

Feeding seagulls only encourages them

Leaving unattended food after finishing a meal and sharing the occasional chip with a seagull creates the greatest problem, Mr Van Weenen said.

"It encourages them and increases the population in areas."

He said while covering food helped to minimise seagull attraction, it would not work if the cover was see-through.

"They are pretty good at picking out what is tucker and what is not."

A change in one seagull's behaviour alerts other birds to the possibility of food.

It is not long before you are surrounded and the chip stand-off begins.

"If someone leaves food out, the birds flock to that particular site and they can come from quite a distance," Mr Van Weenen said.

He said the birds were intelligent and adaptive and were generally advantageous eaters.

Liz, a caller from Mount Torrens, said she was surprised by one flock of seagulls' gusto.

"We were playing bocce on the beach and some seagulls came down to investigate the jack," she said.

"The next time we threw it, it caught it and soared away."

Mr Van Weenen said it was common for seagulls to investigate thrown items, relating it to learned behaviour from being fed.

He said the best way to stop seagulls from approaching was to play the chip stand-off, cover your food, don't feed the birds and don't leave scraps behind.

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