Seagulls Appear to be Developing a Taste for Humans

By Gary Cutlack on at

Scientists messing about on piers and beaches and buying junk food on expenses have discovered something rather worrying about the flocks of coastal birds that want our food; they want it more after it has been touched by a human.

Researchers found that when offered two samples of identical food — one touched by a person's hand and the other kept free of our scent — 79 per cent of the herring gulls surveyed chose the one that had been handled by a human. If they're not fully after our flesh then they do at least seem to enjoy a bit of human sauce on the side.

The team at University of Exeter was much more sensible than to imagine blood-lusting birds making coastal towns no-go areas by the year 2030, as they think the gulls may be using human scent as a sort of indicator. As in, if that massive pink lump can eat this weird warm greasy vegetable cut into a rectangle without dying, it's probably safe for me; or they may be even more simply associating the lumbering humans' waste with easy meals.

The researchers suggest we could use their science discovery to find ways to better dispose of our rubbish, as masking scent somehow might put the birds off ravaging our bin liners for that one last cheeseless pizza crust we couldn't manage. [University of Exeter via BBC]