Are Seagulls Intelligent? Mine Mine Mine!

seagulls rats with wings
Meet Shanty the Seagull: photo by Cherilyn Jose

Hello, my name is Shanty the Seagull. Seagulls get a bad rap from humans. They have the nerve to call us rats with wings! That’s unfair not only to us, but to the rats who are at least intelligent to run all the mazes that human scientists set up.

One reason we appear filthy is because we have figured out that humans’ garbage dumps are a great source of food. One man’s waste is another animal’s treasure. This ingenuity, along with the precise aim of our guano (bird poop) has made us not so lovable. But we really are intelligent, especially for a bird.

We have figured out how to open tightly closed food such as clams and mussels. We use our aiming skills (perfected by aiming guano at human heads) to drop the unopened food from high above onto sharp rocks below.

Seagulls actually have a complex social structure, and we have different modes of communication. And you thought we were cawing just to be annoying! One seagull I knew even used a piece of bread as bait to catch a goldfish.

Our food from some garbage dumps is disappearing as humans have started to use their green food recycling bins. Some cities in the United States collect organic waste, such as food scraps, grass clippings, and food soiled paper (like pizza boxes). This green waste is taken to a commercial composting facility where it ultimately ends up as dirt.

My hope is that not all cities adopt a green waste program, but if they do, I am sure that seagulls will discover a new and easy source of food (or go back to hunting the old fashioned way, sigh).

Fun Fact: A Herring Gull can live to be 49 years old!
P.S. The “Mine, mine, mine” reference is from Finding Nemo!