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Seagulls select their meals based mostly on what folks close by are consuming



Herring gulls generally scavenge meals made for people

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Seagulls pay shut consideration to our meals decisions and present a robust desire for objects like people who persons are consuming close by.

European herring gulls (Larus argentatus), a ubiquitous presence in coastal cities and cities within the UK, are infamous meals snatchers – or kleptoparasites, to make use of the scientific time period. “Many people still think that gulls are not very smart, even though kleptoparasitism to us suggested a higher level of cognition, so we wanted to explore this further,” says Franziska Feist on the College of Sussex, UK.

Feist and her colleagues studied gulls on the Brighton beachfront for a couple of months in 2021 and 2022. They introduced blue and inexperienced packets of potato crisps to teams of gulls. An experimenter sat on the bottom about 5 metres away and both idly watched the gulls or pulled out a inexperienced or blue packet from their bag and ate from it.

The researchers discovered that 48 per cent of the birds approached the packets when the experimenter was consuming, in contrast with 19 per cent once they weren’t. When gulls approached and pecked a packet, they selected the identical color because the experimenter’s packet 95 per cent of the time.

The truth that their foraging decisions had been influenced by human behaviour reveals that gulls are glorious social learners with a excessive stage of cognition, the researchers say.

“The evolutionary history of herring gulls wouldn’t have involved humans, since their urbanisation is rather recent,” says Feist. “So the skills we identified, those that allow them to learn from another species through observations, must come from more general purpose intelligence, rather than an innate ability. This is a very exciting notion to me.”

“I think it shows very clearly that gulls are highly adaptable birds when it comes to foraging,” says Damien Farine on the College of Zurich in Switzerland.

Madeleine Goumas on the College of Exeter, UK, says research like this could play a job in minimising conflicts between people and gulls, however the birds’ use of human meals cues could also be problematic. “Gulls seem to have realised that we are a great information source when it comes to finding food,” she says. “However, the kind of processed food humans eat is a relatively new addition to wild animals’ diets and it is unclear whether it is actually beneficial for them, which is a concern when the species is declining.”


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