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How seagulls catch worms

(19 Posts)
trisher Mon 27-Mar-17 10:49:08

Ok I know nothing about birds, but walking through a small park the other morning I watched a seagull performing what seemed to be an on the spot jig. It was only when it bent down and pulled a juicy worm from the ground I realised what it was doing. I know that other birds do this to tempt worms to the surface but was surprised to see a seagull doing it. I always think of them as scavengers and fish eaters. Please can any gran tell me if this is a new departure for gulls or have they always done it?

Jayanna9040 Mon 27-Mar-17 11:07:03

Seagulls have always followed the plough in coastal ares to get the worms and bugs that the plough turns up. Its one of the fond memories of my childhood, that wheeling mass of white wings. Not sure about the jig though...

Ana Mon 27-Mar-17 11:09:47

I've seen seagulls do this. It works well because of their webbed feet - can't see how smaller-footed birds would have any impact on the ground.

Greyduster Mon 27-Mar-17 11:13:16

It's known as "worm charming"! As Trisher says, quite common among smaller birds, but I've never seen a seagull do it. With feet that size I would think it would give the worms a headache and send them deeper underground! But seagulls will eat anything - even pigeons and rats.

trisher Mon 27-Mar-17 11:13:44

They sometimes use their feet and tap with their beaks, it's supposed to make the worm think it is raining and that brings them to the surface. I agree a seagull's feet are much better for the purpose.

gillybob Mon 27-Mar-17 11:39:13

Yes I think they have always done it trisher. I live very close to the coast and often have a few doing their dance on my back lawn. They are a real problem here and have been known to swoop down and steal ice creams and sausage rolls (among other things) from people as they enjoy a walk along the promenade. Rats with wings.

tiggypiro Mon 27-Mar-17 12:14:33

Seagulls can be found following the plough anywhere Jayanna9040. My father farmed about 50 miles from the sea and they came almost immediately he started ploughing. It still does amaze me how they know when and where to go. Apparently there are fewer worms in farmland now therefore fewer gulls follow the plough.

vampirequeen Mon 27-Mar-17 12:18:31

I've seen seagulls do it many times.

Anya Mon 27-Mar-17 12:26:46

It's not much of a chase though is it?

Jayanna9040 Mon 27-Mar-17 12:27:45

Wow twiggy, 50miles seems a long way to come for a worm! Went from seaside to city, so seagulls didn't feature much and now I am semi rural I don't really see them, but maybe it is because the worms aren't there any more. That's sad.

Anya Mon 27-Mar-17 12:31:09

Seagulls are very clever. They have spotter gulls (sort of spy gulls) all around us high up,in the sky. If one spotter gull is seen to dive down, the next spotter gull (which might be half a mile away) goes to investigate and so it goes in ever increasing circles until you have a whole flock at the eating site.

I've studied this!

Anya Mon 27-Mar-17 12:31:50

PS I live as far from the sea as you can get in England and we still have them.

Jalima Mon 27-Mar-17 13:32:33

I don't know trisher - I do know that they will take an icecream from the hand of an unsuspecting person In fact they will swoop and take anything!
Perhaps the worm was a starter, then they will take sandwiches, a pastie and icecream for pudding.

We are quite a distance from the sea and there are lots around here.
They are known as 'rats with wings'.

Here they are following the plough:

trisher Mon 27-Mar-17 13:52:26

Thanks everyone. I remember the plough from my childhood as well. I know they are pests my DS lives at the coast and you can't feed the ducks in the park because it attracts the gulls. Locals watch the visitors who decide they will have lunch on the beach and are swooped on.

gillybob Mon 27-Mar-17 13:59:23

The boating lake in our lovely park has become overrun with seagulls. The poor ducks can't get a look in. The LA will probably need to cull them soon.

Exactly what I said earlier Jalima I have seen it with my own eyes. Horrible things.

tanith Mon 27-Mar-17 15:16:10

We are West London and have them all the time, the park at the back of us is full of them most days. Noisy bleeders they are too.

SueDonim Mon 27-Mar-17 16:57:05

I see the gulls dancing on grass in the city near us. I should think the worms must be vibrated to death almost!

I've seen seagulls when driving over the mountain pass in the Cairngorms - they get everywhere.

Jalima Mon 27-Mar-17 18:32:20

They like crab sandwiches, especially from the hands of unsuspecting tourists.
I expect some of the delicatessens in Devon do a roaring trade because of the seagulls when tourists have to go back to buy another sandwich

NfkDumpling Mon 27-Mar-17 19:30:05

I've watched various birds including gulls doing the worm war dance out on the marshes. The worm density out there must be incredible. I've also seen blackbirds and larger garden birds at it on the lawn after rain.