Sunday, August 20, 2006

How to feed a seagull



Here on the Island we have thousands of resident seagulls, mainly Laughing Gulls but a fair mixture of others, including kind one with brownish feathers that my Texas bird book is completely bird-brained about. Anyway, there is an art to feeding them. First, never throw food from balconies, and they will gladly crap all over the property – many condos prohibit the practice for that very reason.

The second most common mistake is to throw chips up in the air and scream, as most kids on the beach like to do. Throwing the chips in the air and the seagull-sounding squawk makes them more aggressive and want to attack the chip-thrower, or at least do their pooh-pooh thing even more. They will attempt to steal food from each other, which is one of their nastier habits that should not be encouraged. No, no, that is not how to feed seagulls in the least, and I wouldn’t have believed it until I saw it done right recently.

Our “ammo” for the afternoon was organic chips, stale low-salt cashews, and some … cooked angel hair spaghetti noodles, of all things. Yes, nothing but the best leftovers for our seagulls here, and no empty carbs from white bread and junk food.

So we had set up camp on the beach in one of those Wal-Mart cabanas with our comfortable butt-seats and coolers, and proceeded to emplace the ammo out for grazing. Simply take a handful of the “fire in the hole” stuff and place it on the beach in a pile. It’s really that simple. No throwing!

There’s always a scout so a mess of birds will show up real quick, including several kinds of sandpipers and other shorebirds. The skettie really fools them good and you never saw better table manners from a flock of birds in your life. They land and walk on over as if asking if they can partake in the table fare. Some will grab a bite and walk to the water wash it like a raccoon, bobbing their heads appreciatively. The only pecking that happens is when they attack a sick or weak bird, which is a natural instinct for them.

So by now we have a couple of fine-feathered bird friends, the daring ones that will come right up to be fed like a pigeon in the park. The occasional almond or monkey nut kind of throws them for a loop, which is rather hysterical because they try so hard to perform so mannerly for us. The sandpipers like it when we smash some stale organic chips and pour a trail in the wet sand, since the seagulls can only find the big bites and the little guys go for the tiny crumbs. Big and small, they seem to get along like a chaperoned teen party.

Good food for good friends is what I say.

13 comments:

papabeare said...

Hmmmm, seems like too good food for the flying rats. Having been bombed and bothered by far too many ( because people having "fun" fed them so often they now think a picnic lunch is theirs by right), I would prefer to give them something else.I would like to recommend Alka Seltzer, rat or ant poison inside a bun, perhaps exlax, something along those lines. Ok, despite my horrible thoughts I havent done it myself ( yet) but they are a royal pain. I HAVE seen them attack small children and buzz adults because they think they deserve the handouts. I am sure , Sam, that you have the politically correct way of feeding them. I guess I am just a ( seagull) hate monger.I have sinply had enough of them and wish they would either fish and find food for themselves or all die a screaming seagull death.

Sam said...

I must confess, when I was a kid we once fed clam cakes stuffed with dry ice to a few of the sky-rats. They kind of kersploded. Unfortunately I must atone for my previous sins, my dear.

Everett said...

They, the gulls are a federally protected bird so be careful of how you dispose of them. Once upon a time when I was a kid, we would ex-appropriate small pieces of solid sodium from the chem lab at school. As you may know, when it comes in contact with h2o it reacts violently! So a small piece of this stuff wrapped in a slice of bread and left on the dock to be ingested by said gulls, would result in a spectacular explosion of feathers guts and blood amidst the flock of gulls persuing the "lucky" guy who got the bread. I was really a bad kid! Well hell, there was not a lot of anything happening out here on BI back in the 50's.

Sam said...

Everett, what is it about Block Island that made us do such crazy things?

Sam said...

I got a few emails on this blog thingy and they all kind of asked "well why not feed the birds the good stuff?"

Papabeare knows me very well and I'm sure she will not be mad if I say that for a rat-in-the-sky, the seagull can be trained and can be a wonderful bird to study. The exception to the rule appears to be the rather largish Herring Seagull, which are Yankee imports seen only in the winter - they can't be trained for nothin'. Basically, for these Herring Gull guys it is like "Fagetaboutit."

Your talking to a guy who used to hang out in seagull rookeries where the egg hatching happens in the spring. At first they try to peck your head but after five days of repeat visits, the colony sorta accepted me. Hard hats are good!

Next time if I go to a rookery I'm bringing some darned angel hair skettie, some veggies, a pound of nuts, and a big bag of organic chips. I never would have thought that making babies might mean they really, really needed some sustinance and freshwater.

I do now.

adam said...

Yes, that sounds great, the way the birds react differently when fed properly, they act mannerly, when fed by having food thrown up in the air sends them into attack mode so to speak.

But what do you feed a Flock of Seagulls?

A. Hairspray and alot of hooks yields catchy tunes with witty lyrics.


adam

Sildenafil Citrate said...

When I was living in the Bay Port, I used to feed the little and big gulls, they actually came to the door of my house and waited for me to throw some carcasses!

peace said...

What's wrong with you people,,their just birds trying to survive like anything else. I mean why try to harm them when it is our own fault in the first place,eveything has an reaction to an action. People who think that to harm an animal, just because it's not what we thought it should be, should be ashamed of themselves.

Anonymous said...

My daughter was on the beach eating with friends and a seagull attacked her and bit her finger and scratched her thumb it did draw blood we washed it but i want to send her to the er

Anonymous said...

I think that people that kill animals are cowards and evil, how about if the next door neighbor hates your guts also an plans to kill you the same way and it was mentioned that why do are we against animals of any kind when we are the ones that are taking away everything from them you are so right we do not need to take from nature what belongs to nature we are invading an taking from animals what as we are supposedly to share

Unknown said...

To the people in the comments making DISGUSTING REMARKS ABOUT MY FAVORITE ANIMALS. fuck you. Rats and seagulls are beautiful creatures are more loving and more important than YOU because you are nothing but EVIL and sinful. You are a peice of crap for wanting to hurt animals. Yoh would go to jail because our wildlife is protected by law from idiots like you thank god. Makes me want to feed the seagulls and hang out with them even more. Poor guys. They arw just innocent, intelligent, loving creatures. They are better beings than all of you talking disgusting in the comments. Your lucky i dont call the police for these blasphemous remarks. Fuck you bullies. You will be peirced by your own sword someday.

Anonymous said...

I love seagulls and will keep feeding them. They are usually harassed by children at the beach and not the other way around.

jodyschec said...

Yes, I have a gull support group in the northwest---some youngsters struggle and lots of foot injuries make feeding difficult. They do well on quality dog kibble. Anyone seen fucking with my birds will regret it, seriously regret it on the spot...humans are the extermination candidates of merit.