Why you get so many seagulls in London when it’s not by the sea

While traditionally you’ll see them stealing chips on the seafront, you’ll no doubt have noticed seagulls all over the capital.

Whether it’s their loud squawks or scavenging ways, they’re hard to miss and rather annoying – but why are they here?

One of the more obvious reasons is food.

For more news and features about London directly to your inbox sign up to our newsletter here.

With dwindling numbers of fish in our seas some of the birds have come inland, finding that food is more easily scavenged in big cities where people litter and bin bags are left on the pavements.

Another reason seagulls might chose to move to urban areas is that nesting is safer.

They can live in tall office blocks, away from potential predators such as foxes – in turn meaning more chicks survive and add to the population.

A spokesman for the RSPB, told MyLondon: “Seagulls are extremely adaptable, quick thinking and bold. From a gull’s perspective cities provide myriad opportunities.

“As traditional food sources are declining they have learned to forage in landfill sites further inland and on urban streets. They are taking advantage of our wastefulness.

“Seagulls are breaking their connection with the sea. They have previously nested in towns and cities that are on a corridor to the sea, but now we are seeing them in inland counties that are far from the coast.”

Download the MyLondon app

Download the MyLondon app for the latest news and breaking updates

Get the latest London news straight on your phone without having to open your browser – and get all the latest breaking news as notifications on your screen.

The MyLondon app gives you all the stories you need to help you keep on top of what’s happening in the best city ever.

You can download it on Android here and Apple here.

They added that all seven UK breeding gull species are in decline and birds of conservation concern and that Herring gulls, the archetypal ‘seagull’, have experienced the sharpest decline in population are now red-listed, meaning their decline is of international significance.

They said: “Seabirds are the fastest declining group of birds in both the UK and the world and if we don’t act soon they may become the stuff of legends.”

Gulls can be pretty vicious, especially in August during nesting season, and many local councils have warned residents about them, discouraging people from leaving food waste outside.

Apparently one of their favourite foods is chicken so they’ve got a wealth of places to forage in London – we just wonder if they prefer Chicken Cottage or Sam’s Chicken.

Here are some tips from the RSPB

What should I do with my food around gulls?

They are intelligent birds and have learnt that humans may give them food or drop food so the idea is not to perpetuate any notions seagulls may have that there is easy food available – you want to keep your food out of sight and covered.

Outside tables against a wall, under cover or with large shading umbrellas are at less risk of being targeted by gulls than those in the open.

Avoid spots where there are lots of gulls – it may seem obvious but there more there are, the more likely it is that one will fancy a free meal.

A staring contest can often work if a gull approaches you on foot (some will observe from a distance before walking closer). Stare hard at it, as knowing it has been spotted can often deter and cover or move food closer to you (the gull may decide to go elsewhere).

If there’s a gang of gulls causing a commotion, you’re better off not tempting fate and heading elsewhere.

If you run or work in a café, clear all waste food promptly from tables.

Where should I dispose of my litter around gulls?

Firstly, never feed them. Gulls fly huge distances to find food on and offshore and don’t need your leftovers.

Don’t waste food – if there aren’t any leftovers for them to take from your bin, the problem is solved.

Like the MyLondon Facebook page

To keep up to date with all the latest breaking news, stories and events happening across London, give the MyLondon Facebook page a like.

We will provide you with the latest traffic and travel updates, including updates on train and London Underground services, and the roads around the capital.

The latest breaking news will be brought straight to your news feed including updates from the police, ambulance and fire brigade. We will also bring you updates from our courts and councils, as well as more lighthearted long reads.

We also publish your pictures and videos, so do message us with your stories.

Like the My London Facebook page here.

You can also follow us on Twitter here and Instagram here.

Never litter.

Make sure you have gull-proof lidded bins.

Never add to an overflowing bin – take your food home if the bin is full or there isn’t one nearby.

Don’t leave bin bags out overnight and put your rubbish out as close to collection time as possible.


My London – Local News