Most people including my husband hate seagulls, but 2017 has shown me a different view of the bird, and one I’m on a mission to install in all people.
We have a Victorian house with a monster chimney stack as you can see from this picture from the early 1900’s – We are the lefthand side as you look at this.We’ve lived here for 5 years now, and every spring we have seagulls nesting on the chimney stack. The nesting soon turns into a home for 2 very large eggs and then the massive baby gulls hatch. For the first 4 years my hubby would say they were a bloody nightmare. As soon as the nest has eggs, the parents take the up the role of G4 and swoop, squawk, and dive bomb anyone that comes near the garden. It is a 3 story house, and so we are actually miles from the nest, but gulls see it differently, parental duty on steroids.
Since we’ve lived here, every year the babies eventually fall off the roof, and rarely survive. It is sad, but we’ve not been too close to the birds or to the disaster. This year however was different….
The hubby was out Sunday evening, and sitting in the front room I saw a baby gull drop in front of the lounge window. The parents went nuts and for a good 2hrs the tiny fluffy ball of gull, wove in and out of the parked cars, narrowly avoiding the cars coming down the road. All 4 neighbours were on look out. At one point my neighbour across the road dramatically ran out in front of a Dominos moped and screamed “Stopppppp!!!” whilst standing guard over the baby. I went out there numerous times to save it but kept losing it in various hiding places.
The hubby came home, I told him the situation and he told me to stop worrying about it. It’ll not survive the night and the parents will get over it like the always do. But their screams from the sky didn’t say that to me….that was it, I was saving it. So gone 9pm at night in my pjs and slippers I grabbed a tea towel and shoe box and ran around the street until I cornered the limping baby. Once I’d brought it inside, the husband smartly asked what the plan was now – “Put it in the back garden?”, “Nope, the foxes will get it!”, “Oh bugger, I didn’t think of that….don’t know?”.
Hubby suggested zipping it into the trampoline at least the foxes couldn’t get in….worth a try!
I popped it in, with a bowl of water and zipped it up for the night. For the next 3 days we fed it raw bacon, bread and water, and he seemed to get stronger…we were all starting to fall in love with ‘Limpy’……
Each morning as he saw us in the kitchen he stood up to say hello and get his bacon. The parents still squawked but soon accepted we were friend not foe.
However, three days later as the boys were changing for bed, the littlest son, naked, suddenly raced past me down the stairs screaming “Mummy there’s a seagull in the bedroom!!!”, “Oh dear” I thought, Mummy gull may be on the attack.
I ran up to the bedroom and just found another fluffy ball of gull on the bed. The second chick had rested on the open velux and simply slid into the boys room. Very confused parents nil….Foy’s two.
Wrapped in a towel, rushed down stairs and added to the trampoline nest, safe from the foxes. Our baby Limpy was reunited with his brother ‘Steady’. No injury occurs when you land on a bed, so we have progress.
The babies immediately squeaked to each other and you could see the joy between them of the reunion.
The parents got used to it and even learnt how to drop into the trampoline to feed them both…. The hubby started to bond with them and even nipped out to buy them a ‘happy meal’ one Saturday.
The babies became part of the family, greeting us each morning and evening. We never touched them but they would feed from us. Limpy got stronger, and Steady started to stretch his wings ready to fly. They were both growing and healthy and it was super to see.
Then as with all things in nature one morning reality hit. The hubby came up from making the morning tea and announced the babies had gone. I ran down stairs and yep the trampoline was empty, there was a little hole in the back of the net where they used to sleep together and beneath the hole in the grass were feathers… we had taunted the neighbourhood foxes too long. I was devastated. Not sure whether to tell the boys the truth or not we decided to be honest and leave things as we had found them.
Death not being common in our family, meant that the youngest, upon finding out, simply wailed. Much like a pilgrim at the wailing wall. He threw his whole body against the back door, “Why…why, why!!”. He “wailed” so much, that as sad as Noah and I were, we couldn’t stop laughing… cruel I know.
That evening upon further inspection we noticed that the zip of the trampoline was right up, the hubby’s conspiracy theory began….. “a fox cannot move a zip….we both zipped it fully at 10pm the night before …..Someone let the fox in or let the babies out….!”
Again his theory not mine, I think the fox was pretty clever and after 4 weeks, had learnt how to get them.
We got over our loss. My gorgeous friend bought the boys two baby bird teddies, and once the trampoline was cleaned we started to get back to normal. As a family, we were much more aware of the brown, spotty baby gulls around town, and watched their progress across the rooftops on our way to school each day.
All the time we are learning more, and more about the wonderful creatures in the world. Those same creatures we once thought stupid.
Seagulls for example mate for life, totally monogamous and their social structure is such that their children and children’s children (and so on) are all protected by the social group, up to 100 other gulls in some cases. They have developed glands to desalinate salt water for drinking and they frequently use tools to open food, clams etc. So why do people hate them so much….they are very intelligent and well evolved birds.
I was reminded of our baby gulls once again this week on the way to school. Whilst at a red light, a large white gull was standing at the side of the road staring across to the other side. He was intent, focused and silent. When I looked to my right I saw his mate on the other side of the road. It had just been hit by a car, and had not survived, his silent stare was heartbreaking.
The image stuck with me all day. Imagine trying year after year to successfully breed and raise babies only to lose them to freak accidents. The only thing keeping you sane would be your other half, then you lose them too.
So my ask of you this weekend is to remember, that whilst we humans appear to be at the top of the food chain, we must respect all levels. We are intelligent and so are the creatures we live amongst. We may not all understand them, but that is our ignorance and judgment and not theirs.
The hubby still hates seagulls and pigeons, I probably need to adopt a few pigeons before I love them, but I’m open to it….
Think of that fabulous clown fish in Blue Planet 2, moving the coconut shell for his missus to lay her eggs. Then, consider all those ‘Nemos’ circling in tanks, purely for our enjoyment…. I’ve done it too, but I don’t think I would again.
Anyone want a couple bearded dragons…?
So I’ll leave you with one of my favourite pictures which just about sums this all up. Have a good weekend and be nice to the seagulls please they are little families too.