HAS A SEAGULL EVER KILLED A HUMAN?

It’s no surprise that seagulls are dangerous animals. The largest gull species on the British Isles is the herring gull, who can reach a wingspan of up to a metre and a half and can weigh one and a half kilograms. This makes it one of Britain’s largest birds.

During the breeding season, and after as pairs of gulls nest and raise their chicks, the birds become very territorial and will attack anything that gets too close. The birds will perform ‘mobbing’ behaviours, where other gulls will come to the aide of a threatened gull and together try to drive away an attacker – particularly if that attacker is a large animal.

Black-headed gulls, common gulls and swans; all dangerous animals.

When mobbing, the birds will dive on their quarry and physically force them away, biting as they do so. For most animals this is enough of a deterrent to beat a hasty retreat, but there are reports of animals as large as cats and dogs being mobbed and killed. It isn’t the intention of the gulls to kill the intruder, but if they are cornered or mobbed by a large number of gulls sometimes that is enough to kill the animal.

The only report of a human dying after being mobbed is the sad story of 80-year-old Wilfred Roby who was attacked by a flock of outside his home in Anglesey, north Wales. Roby was balancing on a wall in an attempt to clean the roof of his garage when he disturbed a nest of seagull chicks. The parents returned to mob Roby, and in doing so he was knocked off the garden wall and onto the ground.

His neighbour, David Roberts, saw the incident: “There was a seagull nest on the roof of Wilf ‘s garage and he was always really annoyed by all the droppings. He was standing on a 2ft-high garden wall poking at the chicks with a stick, trying to shoo them away, and while the chicks were scared off, their parents were very upset.

“They started swooping and dive-bombing him and eventually Wilf lost his balance and fell off, banging his head really hard.”

Gulls, like most birds, attack anything that comes too close to their young, including other gulls.

After banging his head, Roby suffered a heart attack. While this story is tragic, it’s hardly the definition of a killing spree. Roby was unlucky enough to accidentally illicit a mobbing from one of Britain’s largest birds.

Weighing as much as they do, any small animal is likely to be seriously injured by a gull protecting its young. In the case of Roby, his death occurred due to a heart attack sustained by falling and hitting his head, not due to injuries cause by the mobbing gulls.

Image: Unsplash

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