Want Seagulls or Birds to Stop Stealing Your Food? Stare at Them

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Want Seagulls or Birds to Stop Stealing Your Food? Stare at Them


Seagulls are common in coastal cities and towns. While it's great to see them as you enjoy your picnic at a beach, they can be annoying as well. These birds are known to steal people's food. Britain's seaside towns are at war with their seagulls. The authorities are encouraging visitors to avoid feeding the birds in an effort to stop them from snatching tidbits from tourists' hands. 

As of now, warning signs have been spread throughout the seaside towns. But there's one thing that can effectively stop seagulls from stealing your food: staring at them. A recent study conducted by the researchers from the University of Exeter suggested that the secret to protecting your food from these birds is to stare at them. They found out that the seagulls tend to scavenge for food when they are not looking at their victims' eyes. 

Photo by Elena Fokina via 123RF


In the study, the researchers tested how long it took for the seagulls to approach food when being watched. With a human staring at them, the birds took 21 seconds longer to approach a bag of chips than when left apparently unobserved. CBSNews, the news division of American television and radio service CBS, the study showed that only 26 percent of the birds went for the food despite the eye contact. The rest of the birds either flew away or stayed put. 

Lead author Madeleine Goumas from the Center for Ecology and Conservation at Exeter’s Penryn Campus in Cornwall said: “Gulls are often seen as aggressive and willing to take food from humans, so it was interesting to find that most wouldn’t even come near during our tests." The findings of the study showed that birds, particularly seagulls, take behavioral cues from the humans around them. They find the human gaze aversive. 

Screen-grabbed from CBS News


“Of those that did approach, most took longer when they were being watched. Some wouldn’t even touch the food at all, although others didn’t seem to notice that a human was staring at them," Goumas added. 



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