Seagulls are virtually a given wherever you’re close to the shore or the water. How much do you actually know about this shrewd forager, though? Unexpectedly, you could not know a lot at all! After instance, “seagull” has historically been used to refer to nearly any gray and white raucous birds found near the sea. The world is home to about 28 different seagull subspecies, though.
The noisy squawking and flapping of the birds may seem chaotic to humans, but they are actually a component of a complex communication system designed to maintain order among the birds.
Let’s discover together what distinguishes these birds from other bird species and what makes them so remarkable. We’ll learn how long seagulls live and what factors shorten or lengthen it in the wild.
Quick Crash Course on Seagulls
Seagulls may be found all across the planet, including the high Arctic and the edges of the Antarctic continent. Although they may sometimes be found close to freshwater sources, they are typically found along the coast. They differ from so many other birds due to their very adaptable nature and intelligence.
The behavior of these birds has been studied by evolutionary scientists, and they all agree that they are very adaptable. Anyone who has had a beach picnic can attest to the fact that they are opportunistic foragers that would even take food from people!
They can drink seawater, which is an interesting characteristic that sets them apart from many other birds. This is because a special pair of glands are located immediately over their eyes. Through perforations in the bill, these glands help remove too much salt from the body.
Like us, seagulls are a monogamous species. They will look for a mate and commit to them for the rest of their lives, staying with them until one of them passes away. They will aid their partners in building nests, caring for young, and acquiring food.
Lifespan of Seagull
Several elements, including the availability of food, protection from predators, and severe weather, have an impact on the lifetime of seagulls.
Therefore, it makes sense that seagulls kept in captivity, such in zoos, have longer lifespans than those kept in the wild. However, if juvenile gulls in the wild make it through the challenges of their first year, their chances of survival considerably rise and continue to improve with each passing year.
A herring gull with the name of Gull Dick visited the same area for 24 years, according to documentation. From October 12 until April 7, he would regularly visit the Brenton’s Reef lightship in Narragansett Bay, where the crew would feed him boiled pork and seafood.
In a similar vein, numerous gulls have been observed to outlive other birds of the same species.
Seagulls, sometimes known as gulls, are found in low-lying coastal areas, coastal cliffs, and coastal cities. The gull species may be found inland as well, congregating in parking lots or close to dumpsters where they can find food.
Gulls have a wider range of habitats than other birds do. They are content to live both along the coast and farther inland as long as there is plenty of food.
Generally speaking, gulls are scavengers who devour any edible trash. But they also like fish, prawns, shrimp, other tiny birds, and marine invertebrates. If possible, they would much prefer find a dead fish in the port than go out to sea and capture one. It is also known that they enjoy eating humans.
FUN FACT: A seagull may easily consume up to 20% of its body weight in food per day. Of course, seagulls only eat around three ounces of food every day because they weigh just 1.5 pounds each.
How long do seagulls live in the wild?
Experts claim that seagulls typically live for around 20 years, yet there are several examples of seagulls living for 25 years or more. But these birds’ distinctive behaviors and behavior can occasionally put them in danger of dying.
Specifically, when seagulls are wild, it’s not unusual for other creatures like foxes, weasels, sharks, and cats to catch and consume them. One of the causes of their drastically differing lifespans is due to this.
While some birds live for 25 years, many of them do not survive to be one year old. It is important to note that a child’s first year of life is crucial. The majority of seagulls who pass through the first year die naturally.
Let’s not overlook the fact that different seagull species have various life spans. Herring seagulls can live to be 30 years old or more, although ring-billed seagulls often die between 12 and 15 years.
What Affects The Lifespan Of A Seagull?
A seagull’s longevity is influenced by a number of factors, including as climate, food supply, and predator protection. For these reasons, a seagull kept in a zoo often lives longer than one kept in the wild.
That being said, wild young gulls have a much better chance of continuing to live a prosperous life as each year goes by if they can survive the challenges of their first year.
In actuality, the majority of seagulls that make it through their first year in the wild pass away from natural reasons.
Seagulls living in the wild have a much harder time since they are frequently prey for creatures such as cats, sharks, weasels, and foxes.
A record of an American Herring Gull dubbed Gull Dick traveling to the same area for more than two decades may be found in the late 1890s.
He would eat fish and bird-boiled pork at the Brenton’s Reef lightship in Narragansett Bay every year from October 12 to April 7. We gained insight into the true level of intelligence of these feathery creatures thanks to this renowned herring gull.
Now that we know, these birds have extraordinary memory. For instance, they can recall a person’s face and a row of trash cans where they formerly put food away. Seagulls are adept at associating, and depending on the cries they hear, they frequently recall other seagulls as either friends or foes.
How long do seagulls live in captivity?
The lifespan of seagulls kept in captivity is, of course, longer. They often receive all the care they require while housed in zoos and other similar establishments. This indicates that they have adequate room to exercise and receive enough food and water.
Additionally, all of the above described predators are not a concern for seagulls kept in captivity. Young seagulls get further attention. Additionally, as they are kept in captivity, they are not subject to the effects of harsh weather, which also shortens their longevity.
The Average Seagull Life Cycle
The life cycle of seagulls is comparable to that of many other bird species. The standard life cycle phases that they go through are egg, chick, juvenile, and adult.
Eggs are frequently deposited by seagulls around the start of May. Typically dark tan to brown or dark olive in hue, seagull eggs have dark splotches and scribbling patterns that help them blend in with their environment and avoid being eaten by predators.
Both sexes participate in the incubation process; one parent incubates the eggs for one to four hours during the day while the other parent incubates the eggs at night.
Seagull baby birds are known as gull chicks. As soon as the chicks hatch, they are completely covered with down. After hatching, both parents feed the babies.
For nearly a week, parents watch over their young chicks, and to safeguard them, at least one parent frequently stays with the chicks until they fledge. Typically, chicks begin to fly in late July or early August.
First-year juvenile seagulls have blotchy grey, black, and white feathers on their wings instead of having spotless white with grey wings. They also have brown spots on cream around their neck and head, as well as a black beak. Seagulls require three to four years to reach adulthood.
Adulthood – They are fully mature and able to breed at the age of four. It might take up to five years for the largest gulls, such the Herring and Black-backed gulls, to reach maturity. Due to their significantly longer lifetime, they reach sexual maturity considerably later than many other birds.
How do most seagulls die?
Old age and natural reasons like tiredness and exhaustion are how most gulls pass away.
Since gulls are observant and hardy creatures, it is unlikely that they would perish from predators until they are adults. Large protective groups of gulls are renowned for chasing away larger predatory birds, thereby sending them on their way and putting them off the hunt.
However, until they mature into juveniles, baby seagulls are highly fragile and are at risk from predators including foxes, racoons, petrels, skewers, mink, and cats.
Gulls do have bacterial, viral, and parasitic illnesses, and since they travel great distances, they frequently hasten the spread of avian disease between continents. Seagulls actually have the ability to spread illness into human food and water sources.
A National Geographic article from 2016 issued a caution over the spread of E. coli strains that are particularly drug-resistant by gulls.
Once a year, seagulls only produce one clutch of eggs. Each gull lays between 2 and 3 eggs, and the bird builds its nests in sizable colonies. From species to species, the incubation period varies, and often both parents participate in the process. On the ground, nests are constructed from stones, sticks, and twigs.
After hatching, the young remain near to the nest for five to six weeks until they are prepared to acquire hunting and scavenging techniques from their parents.
How do seagulls survive winter?
Gulls’ feathers are thick, slick, and oily, which helps keep water out and heat in, and they have an insulating underlayer of down that keeps them warm. Additionally, they have robust, active metabolisms that contribute to the proper maintenance of their body heat.
Seagulls are exceptional migrators; some fly hundreds of kilometers annually to spend the winter in warmer regions. Amazingly, gulls may fly 12,000 kilometers (7,500 miles) every year!
Gulls are very strong and resilient birds, though, and they may still be found as far north as the high Arctic and as far south as the Antarctic.
They have evolved a number of methods for remaining warm due to their high level of adaptation to cold temperatures, such as communal roosting in big flocks and avoiding lingering in one area for an extended period of time.
If you live near the seaside, seagulls are certainly something you find annoying. These birds are known to harm crops and pose a risk to human safety.
Seagulls are the bird species most likely to crash into airplanes, by far.
To scavenge food, the majority of gull species construct their nests close to densely populated human areas. They are high-risk disease transmitters because they spend a lot of time close to dumpsters, inland waterways, and water reservoirs.
Despite all of this, these enormous birds are nonetheless protected by federal law in the US and are regarded as migratory birds. Without a professional license or permission issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, no one is allowed to capture seagulls from a certain area.
There are many distinct species of seagull since they are long-lived birds that have been around for many thousands of years. Though there are four basic categories of gulls, we now know of more than 50 different species.
What are the predators of seagulls?
Gulls are powerful, vigilant, clever, and aggressive birds with few natural predators. In order to protect themselves from bird predators like eagles, skewers, and giant petrels, they assemble huge flocks and engage in protective behaviors.
Nevertheless, gulls may be exposed at sea. Sharks, seals, and other huge marine carnivores are a few of their principal predators. The best chance of catching gulls is when they are bobbing about in shallow water.
Fewer than 25% to 50% of baby gulls will live to their first birthday because they are so susceptible throughout their first year. Once young gulls fledge, they often stray from their parents, which puts them in danger.
Baby gulls may seem “lost,” but their parents are probably keeping an eye on them, so if you encounter one that appears to be somewhat abandoned, don’t move it just yet!
Once gulls turn one, their rate of survival climbs significantly year after year. According to studies, several of the bigger gull species have a year-over-year survival rate of 95% or higher for adult gulls.
More Seagull Fun Facts
Scientists have researched how fast seagulls can fly in the wild, reaching speeds of up to 35 mph.
Use of Seagull Excrement as Fertilizer – Guano, often known as seagull poop, is used as fertilizer for plants and crops. But not only seagulls produce guano; we also refer to the waste products of bats, seals, and seabirds that inhabit coastal areas and islands.
Because it is composed of nitrogen-rich ammonia salts, guano is distinctive. The nutrients in the soil depend on these salts.
Seagulls are opportunistic eaters, but many of us are unaware of exactly how adept they are at finding food. A seagull can detect food from more than three miles away.
Seagulls have an extraordinary sense of smell and can locate even the smallest odor of food from a distance of up to three miles. These birds can more readily discover food because to Jacobson’s Organs, extremely sensitive nerve endings located within the nostrils.
The capacity of a seagull to locate food is essential to its existence. Seagulls have an outstanding sense of smell in addition to having good vision that allows them to perceive objects up to two miles away.
Additionally, they have nearly panoramic views of what they’re looking at thanks to the eyes on the sides of their heads, which allows them to detect predators coming from any angle. This is a huge benefit since it allows them to flee much more swiftly.
The majority of seagulls return to their original breeding places each year; there are many gulls who do this. Some seagulls even have the ability to return to the same spot after two years, which is really amazing. Because seagulls frequently utilize the same nesting locations for several generations, human interference has grown to be a serious problem.
Seagulls are monogamous species, much like humans, and they mate for life. They will choose a partner and remain with them until one of them passes away, developing a lifetime attachment. Together with their mates, they will care for the chicks, create nests, and hunt for food.
While male seagulls venture outside in search of various food sources, female seagulls frequently remain at home and tend to the young chicks or eggs.