Madeleine Goumas, Neeltje Boogert, Pep Bassett, Jay Gillian, United Kingdom, Research, Science, Food

Madeleine Goumas, Neeltje Boogert

Frosty stare keeps seaside scavengers away from your fries, study finds

Frosty stare keeps seaside scavengers away from your fries, study finds.

8/11/2019 11:36:00 AM

Seagull staredown! Frosty stare keeps seaside scavengers away from your fries, study finds.

Frosty stare keeps seaside scavengers away from your fries, study finds.

Scientists at the University of Exeter in the U.K. found that herring gulls -- the U.K.’s most common species of seagull -- are gaze averse, meaning that they have a fearful response to being watched. Their research was published by the Royal Society.

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When the scientists tried to tempt seagulls with a bag of fries, they found that the gulls were less likely to take the food when the researchers kept their eyes on them.“It seems that just watching the gulls will reduce the chance of them snatching your food,” said senior author Dr. Neeltje Boogert.

Very few gulls even approached the team, the study's lead author, Madeleine Goumas, told ABC News.“Gulls are often seen as aggressive and willing to take food from humans, so it was interesting to find that most wouldn’t even come near during our tests,” she said.

“It seems that a couple of very bold gulls might ruin the reputation of the rest,” Boogert added.Goumas, who goes by the handle @Gull_Mad on Twitter, told ABC News that although gulls have a negative reputation, and that numbers are rising in urban areas, the population of herring gulls has massively declined across the U.K. Britain's Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, a conservation group, has put herring gulls on their red list, meaning that they need urgent conservation action.

Keep an eye on that gull – it might just save you your chips! Herring gulls (the classic “seagulls”) pay attention to whether you’re looking at them, and they don’t seem to like it! pic.twitter.com/6bg2oRrX7HGulls have very good eyesight, said Goumas, but it’s not clear if they are really aware that humans are watching them. The behavior could be innate, or it could be learned from gulls’ experiences with human, according to Goumas.

The team of scientists is planning more research into this, and other ways in which gulls interact with humans in an urban environment.Bold seagulls overall, however, seems to be a worldwide phenomenon.Across the pond in Ocean City, New Jersey, resident Pep Bassett told ABC News how"one swooped right down, slapped me on the side of my head with his wing and took my doughnut." Seagulls have hurt a child in the past, according to Mayor Jay Gillian.

Suggestions to keep a beady eye on the birds is a less extreme solution than what Ocean City is trying this summer. Read more: ABC News »

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trowynt I want Frosty It works on Jersey gulls. Did it at IBSP this past week while on vacation. Birds kept their distance. Clearly the people who did the study never met any real seagulls who work for a living. They don’t think anything of a look from any human and they work together to distract you while they take your food. And so what, to you it’s just a lost potato chip, to them it’s survival

Not the ones at the Jersey Shore. How I’m looking at these seagulls when they’re eyeing my sandwich my ma made just for me. amazing Thats very handy to have

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Staring at seagulls can stop them stealing food, study suggests Research from a small study showed that it took seagulls 21 seconds longer to approach a bag of chips with a human staring at them.

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