Staring at seagulls makes them less likely to steal food

According to a new, special study conducted by researchers at the University of Exeter, staring at seagulls makes them less likely to steal food. The researchers carried out several tests on 74 seagulls and found that on average it took the seagulls 21 seconds longer to get close to food if there was a human being staring at them.

If there was a human around to look at them, most of the seagulls would fly away or not approach the food. Only 27 of the 74 seagulls approached. As Madeleine Goumas, a researcher at the Center for Ecology and Conservation at Exeter, explains, it was interesting to discover that most gulls were intimidated by the mere glance.

These animals, in fact, are increasingly seen as aggressive and willing to do almost anything to get food, as suggested by many funny videos on the net. However, according to Neeltje Boogert, another expert who participated in the study, “Seagulls learn very quickly, so if they can get food from humans once, they might look for more. This means that if they learn that the human eye doesn’t produce negative consequences for them, it won’t be long before being stared at becomes a normal thing and they start to approach food fearlessly and in increasing numbers.”

The same researchers recommend in any case to all those who are used to eating outdoors, situations that occur more and more often during the summer, to look around often because the seagulls are used to take food when we are distracted, taking us by surprise: “It seems that just looking at the seagulls will reduce the possibility that they will tear your food,” Boogert himself reveals.


Links/Sources:

https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rsbl.2019.0405