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European herring gull

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Seagulls: Clever Urban Scavengers

By Helen Briggs, Environment Correspondent

Published 2 days ago


Seagulls, often seen as pests, are actually charismatic and intelligent birds. As their natural habitats shrink, they adapt to urban environments, scavenging for food in our towns. Let's explore their remarkable abilities and how we can coexist with them.

The Clever Gulls

Professor Paul Graham of the University of Sussex emphasizes that seagulls exhibit intelligent behavior. What we perceive as mischievous or criminal actions—such as raiding bins or stealing food—are signs of their smartness and social learning skills. Over time, they develop a repertoire of skilled behaviors to liberate food from our waste.

Urban Adaptation

Driven by human activities, seagulls, especially herring gulls, move into urban areas. They feed on leftovers as fish populations decline in our seas. Rather than viewing them as nuisances, we should respect their ability to survive in changing environments.


Simple solutions can help us coexist with seagulls. Larger, secure bins in public spaces can prevent scavenging, and educating people not to leave leftover food lying around is essential.

Conservation Concern

Conservationists are increasingly concerned about declining gull populations. The six main UK gull species face challenges, with some red-listed. A recent national survey highlighted the need to protect these adaptable birds.


Seagulls are not criminals; they are clever survivors. Let's appreciate their charisma and learn to share our urban spaces with them.

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