Herring gulls are large, noisy birds found throughout the year around our coasts and inland around rubbish tips, fields, large reservoirs and lakes, cities and towns. Many people who have gulls on their property find they cause a nuisance through noise, mess and damage to property. Birds can dive and swoop on people and pets causing great consternation and fear. Their nests have been known to block gas flues, valley gutters and drains causing considerable water damage to the fabric of buildings. Their droppings are smelly and corrosive. Control is achieved by fitting spikes and nets and lifting nests and eggs.
Where are they found?
The herring gull has adapted very well to man's way of life and is the main scavenger around rubbish dumps and fishing harbours. It seems to prefer to feed on these easy pickings rather than catch fish at sea. Herring gulls are aggressive birds and will threaten other species with a fierce and intimidating display if they come too close.
The growing number and size of rubbish dumps, and of reservoirs, has encouraged the great increase in the herring gull population that has occurred over recent years. In some areas they have become a major nuisance where expanding colonies have spilled over on to rooftops, causing fouling and noise problems - even frightening people by swooping down and mobbing them.
In more natural habitats, herring gulls have caused problems for delicate species such as puffins and terns. Serious competition for space on cliffs, islands and dunes causes the gulls to drive other birds away, depriving them of breeding grounds. It has been necessary to cull in some areas in order to reduce the gulls' numbers.
Many people who have gulls on their property find they cause a nuisance and common problems include:
- Noise: caused by calling gulls and by their heavy footsteps.
- Mess: caused by their droppings, fouling of washing, gardens and people.
- Damage to property; caused by gulls picking at roofing materials and by nests which block gutters or hold moisture against the building structure.
- Birds can dive and swoop on people and pets; This usually occurs when chicks have fallen from the nest and adult birds attempt to prevent them coming to harm by frightening away potential threats.