Sunday, July 29, 2012

You Just Found an Orphaned Seagull?

This article is overdue, for right now we're in the season when baby seagulls grow up in the wild. So, maybe you just found a winged orphan and don't know what to do.....

On YouTube I once talked to a lady who had a disabled seagull orphan years ago. She didn't keep it, since she came to the conclusion a gull would be happier at the zoo. But the zoo didn't keep this gull and it's in question whether the bird got by in the wild..... She also said, the gull didn't get tame during the weeks she gave shelter to it. Well, I consider this absolutely normal -- any animal needs time to learn trust. So perhaps you want to hear about my experiences....

Miss G and I have a very deep relationship today. She trusts me, as I trust her. But this has been growing over years -- it really needs time. Frankly, even I couldn't trust her during the first years.... suddenly she would bite my nose or something. There were many misunderstandings between the two of us. Today this is not the case anymore. I can say, Miss G and I are a real family today -- we feel the same way and 'speak' the same language. But this had to grow over many years. It takes time, you just have to be patient.

If you bring up a disabled gull, this animal is going to be a pet all its life. God didn't create wild animals on one hand and pets on the other. A parrot is supposed to live in the wild, but if it grows up in civilization, it is supposed to stay there. I couldn't live in the jungle, for I wasn't taught so during my childhood days. And it's very unlikely, I will ever learn to survive there. Same goes for young birds of any kind. There is no such thing as a species called 'pet' -- there are only animals who where raised to be pets. And the same goes for a seagull that grew up among humans for a long time. You probably would find it too tough to survive in the wild yourself. And the seagull you're bringing up right now, probably doesn't want it either after some time. It knows how to be a seagull-baby, but never learned to live on its own. If your gull is healthy, you have to release it slowly and still leave a chance to find back to your care. But if it's disabled anyway, you should keep it as a pet. We shouldn't forget, a zoo is a commercial enterprise and cannot give shelter to every wild bird in need. And any animal shelter will appreciate, if you're ready to care for you orphan yourself. For they're all crowded with too many animals already.

Pets (dogs, cats, birds, whatsoever....) are used to share human culture. Many of them love music and they prefer certain kinds of music. Miss G loves to hear Whitney Houston, because I listened to Whitney's CDs a lot around 1995, when my bird was a baby. Today I rarely do, but if I play Whitney's old songs, like Saving All My Love For You, Miss G starts screeching at once. So, she does remember the music she heard over 15 years ago! Today I rather listen to jazz and my gull is at least a bit interested. Since I play trumpet, trombone and 'clarinet' myself, she's able to kinda judge the different sounds. At times I remember her while listening to jazz CDs: "This is a trumpet.... this is a trombone.... now it's a clarinet!" Basically she is interested to hear about things she already knows (we humans actually too). And she is very excited each time she recognizes something.

Our pets share human language with us. Your dog cannot speak it, but have you got any idea how many vocabularies he's able to understand? Honestly, I don't know the extent of Miss G's passive vocabulary. But she's fairly impressive and at times I'm still surprised. As she learns vocabularies pretty quick -- she even has a sense for new combinations which make sense. Two phrases are very old in the repertoire we share: "Look, the sun is shining (she loves to hear that)!" The other one sounds like, "Wait, let me switch on the light...... aaah.... see? Light, you can actually see something!" One beautiful morning I was like, "Hey, the sun is shining.... this is light -- it's sunlight!" The combination sun/light made her very euphoric. This combination actually made sense, seemed very beautiful and was great fun to consider. I know her euphoric screech too well. We agree on many things, we share a lot of things. And who wonders? After 18 years we're an old couple. Don't be like, not any gull would be able to grow into that role. After 18 years?! Just give it a chance and let the relationship grow. If your gull has a broken wing, it has no other option. A life with nice humans isn't dull. That is, if you're ready, able and willing.

I don't share unabridged human intelligence with Miss G. Yet, we have enough to share interesting communication. One day the sun was shining into the kitchen window again and I approached her with trumpet in my hand. Accidentally she was struck by reflections from the brass and panicked. So I explained to her, it just was the sunlight. I pointed at the open window and then at the bell of my instrument: "See, it's the sun light...... See, now the light is on your sand.... This is just sunlight!" Now she seemed to like it. The reflection struck her again -- this time I did it intentionally. Her fear was gone. Isn't that wonderful? I will never be able to explain her a reflexive pronoun, or an F♯m79 chord. But this doesn't matter. We do share a certain rationality and we do share the fun of communicating and understanding together. Human culture is interesting and in a way impresses any kind of animals.

The certain woman who had given her gull to a zoo said, after all the bird wasn't happy among the other birds. But she couldn't say exactly where her gull ended up after all. Well, I don't wonder. Miss G is a sissy. She's very much afraid of wild seagulls, since she made the experience they're much tougher than she is. My gull is a civilized little lady and far away from being a wild gull. Though, I didn't tell the woman she should have waited and her gull had actually been supposed to get tame still, after some time. I absolutely think so, but it was too late anyway and I didn't want her to feel the pain of regrets.

Well, at least you know it now. And if you have any questions: Ask -- the comment forms are open to anyone. You don't have to sign in (spam will be deleted immediately though; I watch this blog daily!).


  1. Your gull is awesome.

    I remember seeing your videos on YouTube when you used to put them up. Are you going to do any more?

    1. Thanks!

      Well, we're not here to entertain. My job is to work for disabled gulls and their keepers, mainly to give them information. And that's what this blog does.

      YouTube is not so much my world, because I prefer detailed text. I probably will load up a video now and then, but it won't happen so often any more. Those videos I've already loaded up actually offer all the information that is needed. In most cases I don't show new videos on my YouTube channel, but embed them right here instead. The safest way to stay in touch with Miss G is this blog.

    2. I had answered above question in July and now just rephrased.

  2. I was just wondering when I read your blog...

    Can a tame seagull be picked up and petted/cuddled? Or does she bite?

    Also, do you ever feed her live food, such as living fish, or mice, or insects? Because I know that seagulls do like to chase and catch things.


    1. Thanks for the interesting questions.

      Interestingly, I saw a YouTube video about using harnesses for parrots: The lady says, some parrots like to be touched, others not so much. I made exactly that experience with gulls.

      I saw other people nursing gulls and they were able to pick them up and carry them. My Miss G must have sort of vertigo, for she's afraid to loose firm ground. If I put her on a chair she panics because she's afraid to fall off.

      I can pet/cuddle Miss G and she likes it. Sometimes she doesn't want it, and then she just pinches me gently. In case I don't stop then, she might pinch a little harder. Call it social behavior, preventing escalation. Miss G only really bites me, if I annoy her too much, and then it's mostly MY mistake. There's one silly thing I did on YouTube, which was just an experiment: I was wearing yellow rubber gloves, moved two fingers like a beak and imitated a gull vocalization which meant an unfriendly approach. She got mad like hell instantly and very harshly attacked that hand. But Miss G shows this kind of aggression very rarely. We live together since July 1994, and she fully trusts me.

      Miss G and I often have lunch or supper together. I share my food, unless it's something with too much onion or garlic, which is unhealthy to animals. Cocoa is generally toxic to all non-human animals (maybe not to apes, don't know...)
      No live food -- Miss G shares my civilized life. I hate to use raw stuff, it only ends up in unclean mess for she's spilling and crumbling a lot.
      Her favorite food is (1) eggs, (2) pollack filet, (3) tofu, (4) cheese, (5) broccoli (6) rice [(1) is the favorite ect. ...]
      Bread is a no go. She once accepted bread only with cheese and butter -- now she she takes the cheese off and I can throw away the rest. Spoiled 'seegal'.

    2. My only experience with gulls is feeding the wild birds sometimes, but I have noticed that while they'll eat bread if you throw it to them, but they really get excited about pieces of meat.

      Have you ever thought of trying a 'gull harness'? I saw some Youtube videos of people putting a harness on a chicken. Might be a similar principle, in terms of size.

    3. Wild gulls eat bread because they're short of food. Miss G doesn't need to, because she gets enough better and healthier food. That's why domesticated animals generally live longer. Life in nature is hard and shortens life.

      Miss G has a harness, which I sewed years ago. I use it only if there are dogs near by, or a dangerous street with lots of traffic. The parrot lady on YouTube did it gently, I just force her in and don't discuss. Maybe she tries to bite then, but she can't because I'm used to handle gulls. Like snake experts grab snakes so they can't bite. Anyway, the bite of a herring gull is harmless.

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  5. hi I read more I see its now do u live with Miss G and is it legal to own her...or is it because your a vet??