You'll never look at those beady eyes the same way again
October 10, 2021 8:12 AM   Subscribe

Once you see a seagull swallowing a rabbit, you can't unsee it. Gulls gulp down squirrels, rats, puffins, goslings, pigeons, fish, sharks, and starfish, and hunt yet more pigeons and even octopuses.

In the great circle of life, octopuses in turn drown seagulls, weasels ambush them, ducks attack them, tuna spit them out, and swans mess them right up, though not as much as bald eagles and sea lions (be warned, the last one is extreme, although maybe not from the viewpoint of rabbits, squirrels, rats, puffins, geese, pigeons, fish, sharks, starfish and octopuses).
posted by rory (52 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

I love animals. I love birds. I love visiting the downtown pond in my community to watch the geese, the ducks, the swans, and pigeons. But the seagulls...they are just noisy and rude. Haven't seen any of them scarf down anything as mentioned above, but you can see in their eyes that they're just ready to do it. Jerks.
posted by davidmsc at 8:27 AM on October 10 [1 favorite]

Having seen a great black-backed gull hunt and gulp down a starling in mid-flight over Fair Isle, I will not be following any of those links.
posted by scruss at 8:32 AM on October 10

A seagull nabbed an entire triangle of my thick cut, held together with brown sauce, bacon toastie once. Took it right off my plate, hopped a fence, swallowed it sideways, it's neck bulging at the corners. No forgiveness.
posted by biffa at 9:01 AM on October 10 [5 favorites]

I live near the water and I hear gulls daily. I always thought they were kind of the jerks of birds but wow.
posted by deadaluspark at 9:01 AM on October 10

Not to forget, here is a pelican eating a pigeon.
posted by biffa at 9:07 AM on October 10 [2 favorites]

Nature red in beak and web foot.
posted by y2karl at 9:15 AM on October 10 [6 favorites]

I like the seagull to the left of the rabbit-devourer. That bird seems to be observing the gourmand, assessing its performance, before leaving to jot down a review.
posted by doctornemo at 9:34 AM on October 10

Lest we forget, they also dance.
posted by Pallas Athena at 9:45 AM on October 10 [2 favorites]

I live in a seaside city with a sizeable urban seagull population. I love them—they are beautiful on the wing, they are strong and opportunistic birds that fully have shown the necessary flexibility to adapt to the landscape we as humans have created. They may lack the charm of crows, but they make up for that in sheer bloody-mindedness and the beauty of their fierce cries.
posted by bouvin at 9:50 AM on October 10 [16 favorites]

I can't hate on gulls. So they're rapacious, opportunistic marauders of our coasts and cities? They got nothin on the apex primates currently shitting all over the world.
posted by elkevelvet at 10:00 AM on October 10 [12 favorites]

There's some really fascinating behaviors on display in some of these videos. The first one with an octopus attacking a seagull also has a random duck show up clearly trying to do some sort of communicative display at the seagull. It looks like the duck misreads the gull's desperate thrashing to escape as a display, and tries to reciprocate. I wonder if the duck is trying to threaten the dying gull, or mate with it. I'm sure a student of that species would be able to tell.
posted by biogeo at 10:05 AM on October 10 [2 favorites]

Eating a whole rabbit just seems impractical though. Is the gull still able to even fly with such a huge meal in its belly?!
posted by biogeo at 10:06 AM on October 10 [2 favorites]

"To me nature is… spiders and bugs, and big fish eating little fish, and plants eating plants, and animals eating… It's like an enormous restaurant, that's the way I see it."
(W. Allen)
posted by philip-random at 10:07 AM on October 10

I've always thought a seagull would make a wonderful familiar, if I could fulfill my dream of becoming a wizened sea witch one day. A creature who would relentlessly harass and annoy others on my behalf is pretty much all I want out of this world.
posted by DingoMutt at 10:10 AM on October 10 [12 favorites]

also Be
posted by philip-random at 10:12 AM on October 10


Some other dude: RELEASE THE SEAGULL

Kraken: Oh hey sorry guy but I think I left the stove on smell ya later
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:03 AM on October 10 [6 favorites]

A seagull nabbed an entire triangle of my thick cut, held together with brown sauce, bacon toastie once.

Did he get any Taytos to go with it?
posted by The Bellman at 11:06 AM on October 10

I've heard eating Welsh Rarebit can lead to nightmares.
posted by Bee'sWing at 11:25 AM on October 10

Eating a whole rabbit just seems impractical though. Is the gull still able to even fly with such a huge meal in its belly?!

It could be carried by an African gull maybe, but not a European gull. It's a simple question of weight ratios!
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:51 AM on October 10 [8 favorites]

We have a breeding pair of seagulls who nest behind the chimney on our roof. They lay three eggs each year and at least one of the stupid babies falls off well before it has a chance to survive. Then the parents spend the next day divebombing anyone who steps into the garden. When he had some work done that required scaffolding we had some spikes put where they nest (out of season) to discourage them when they returned. So we got to watch them having sex on some spikes and they now have very firm foundations for the large, flat bed of guano fuelled vegetation that is now behind our chimney.
posted by biffa at 12:18 PM on October 10 [6 favorites]

A lesser black-backed gull has learned to hunt pigeons in Hyde Park.
posted by cyanistes at 1:04 PM on October 10 [1 favorite]

Nature is not kind. Someone told me one winter day a small flock of mallards got frozen into the lake by their house. A bald eagle pair swung by, plucked the heads off of every single duck, and then settled down on the ice to eat the warm remains. Gulls would give that behavior a slow hand clap.
posted by Ber at 1:11 PM on October 10 [6 favorites]

Nature is not kind. I bet those eagles would beg to differ.
posted by TedW at 1:47 PM on October 10 [2 favorites]

My wee sister would have been about five when we took her out to feed the ducks. "Ooh look, a mummy duck leading her three baby ducklings out for a swim!" That duck must have spent three or four minutes checking in all directions that it was clear, but as soon as the third duckling left the safety of the shore: Whoosh! Whoosh! Whoosh! Three perfectly synchronised gulls swooped in one after the other and nabbit the lot of them in under two seconds.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 2:17 PM on October 10 [2 favorites]

[warily turns head with 3/5ths of a sea star jutting from beak]

posted by runehog at 2:20 PM on October 10 [1 favorite]

I love all of these creatures equally and wish them all the best but god-damn a duck will really ruin your shit.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:18 PM on October 10

why did i click on that
posted by goatdog at 3:41 PM on October 10 [5 favorites]

As a bird lover I find this wrong in so many damn ways. No offense to rory.
posted by Splunge at 4:14 PM on October 10

Nonmoral Nature
posted by sevenless at 4:34 PM on October 10 [1 favorite]

I was at the beach a few weeks ago and someone next to me was feeding the gulls some snack food. Three or four species showed up, including laughing gulls and greater black-backed gulls. The greater black-backed is the largest gull species in the world, and laughing gulls are petite in comparison. At one point the black-backed grabbed a laughing gull with its bill to get it out of the way, but I wouldn't have been surprised if it had tossed the smaller gull back like the potato chip it was going after. Don't mess with gulls.
posted by mollweide at 4:51 PM on October 10

When my son was little a seagull stole his little stuffed Pikachu and flew off with it. I don't know if he later tried to eat it.
posted by eye of newt at 5:11 PM on October 10

Geese are the biggest assholes in the avian world, but gulls are more viscous.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:25 PM on October 10

More vicious too.
posted by BrotherCaine at 5:34 PM on October 10 [6 favorites]

Jurassic Seagulls
posted by Beholder at 5:38 PM on October 10

Seagull 1: Dude why you coughing?

Seagull 2: Sorry, got a hare in my throat
posted by caution live frogs at 6:03 PM on October 10 [12 favorites]

Last summer at the beach, a seagull (who must have been a grizzled veteran of the Maine coast) that had been doing slow laps over our beach blanket waited until my wife, bologna sandwich in hand, gestured emphatically, at which point he dove and grabbed the entire sandwich out of her momentarily-outstretched hand, coasted to a stop five feet away, threw his head back, and swallowed the entire thing. Total elapsed time: 3 seconds. It was a masterwork performance. The sandwich was easily the size of his entire head, and he never hesitated. I don't know if I've ever seen something so artful or appalling.

So, sure, entire rabbits, why not?
posted by Mayor West at 6:18 PM on October 10 [5 favorites]

1985, vacationing in Florida, an older cousin says he'll give me $5 if I can kick one of the swans at the beach. Soon I'm $5 richer, missing a chunk of hair and unable to sit for three days.
posted by goatdog at 9:07 PM on October 10 [8 favorites]

The duck in the octopus video is actually a muscovy, which is fairly distantly related to ducks, despite being duck-shaped. The head bobbing behaviour is very common, but I still have no idea what it was attempting to do out there with the gull.
posted by WaylandSmith at 10:25 PM on October 10

biggest assholes is it? I used to be a nice boy until a gull shat on my head while catching the sun in the pram; ca. 1955, Dover, England. Controlled experiment: my twin sister, at the other end of the vehicle, escaped the bombing and is a model of kindness.
posted by BobTheScientist at 1:24 AM on October 11 [7 favorites]

Sandwich predation by seagulls is actually pretty common where I live. After a morning in the water a few years ago we went into picturesque St Ives for lunch. My SO bought a sandwich from a hatch in the wall and turned around with it, raised it to take a bite, and a gull took the whole thing from her hand. St Ives is supposed to be one of the worst towns around for aggressive gulls. We've been stalked there before for an ice cream cone. Its where they did this research about starting them out to stop them going after your lunch. You have to see the damn things first for that to work of course.

I've lost both a pasty and a sausage roll from areas around where I mentioned I lost my bacon sarnie further up thread (not in St Ives). Straight out of my hand. Gulls tend to be worse for attacking in winter, in my experience. They get dependent during the summer off all the waste food and from thick tourists feeding them chips and pasty crust, then go short in the winter and decide not to wait to be fed.
posted by biffa at 5:48 AM on October 11 [2 favorites]

Do we have an argument for getting soup and a salad which will be harder for seagulls to steal?
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 6:27 AM on October 11 [2 favorites]

> runehog:
"[warily turns head with 3/5ths of a sea star jutting from beak]


I came upon this scene once, not having seen the gull pick up the starfish. The starfish the gull was attempting to swallow was about the same color as the bird's beak. I was filled with pity because I thought it was some kind of mutant or deformity what with all the starfish arms dangling all around the birds mouth. Then the bird gave it another gulp and the starfish went down and the pity for the bird was replaced with "OH."
posted by ArgentCorvid at 9:56 AM on October 11 [2 favorites]

The gulls around Scotland are unafraid to lean into tartan stereotypes. I saw one in Edinburgh steal a macaroni pie and chomp it down in one, and watched another in Aberdeen unscrew the lid from a bottle of Buckfast atop a communal bin.
posted by gnuhavenpier at 11:55 AM on October 11 [5 favorites]

Herring gulls can live to 30, but let's assume the Buckfast bandit was under 18.
posted by biffa at 1:31 PM on October 11 [3 favorites]

... and I'll never look at mallard ducks the same way again, not after seeing Mrs Mallard beat up a seagull.
posted by Termite at 1:20 PM on October 12

I once went canoeing with a friend around a small island overgrown with blackberries in an inlet on the Arboretum side of Lake Washington. Where we silently glided by an ankle deep Great Blue Heron intently staring down. A huge dragonfly buzzed by its head and ...Snap! crunch crunch crunch.

It then went back to staring down, suddenly leaned down, stiffened like a cocked atlatl and struck --splash! -- and came up with a small perch. It then threw said perch straight up and caught it in its wide open beak. Which we then watched in horror as the wiggling squirming lump slid down its throat.
posted by y2karl at 10:04 PM on October 12 [3 favorites]

Just one more, for all you Star Wars Episode VII/VIII fans: Seagull eating a rabbit on The Skelligs (with great commentary from the watching visitors, too).
posted by rory at 4:43 AM on October 13

So they're rapacious, opportunistic marauders of our coasts and cities?

Have any historians considered that the Sea Peoples may have been Sea Gulls?
posted by Tehhund at 11:20 AM on October 13 [4 favorites]

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