Summer is an ideal time for taking trips to the beach, which also means fighting off hungry seagulls at said beach. If you've ever had to fend one off, you'll be happy to know it's not just because you're unlucky because a recent study claims that seagulls find food more appealing after they see humans touch it.
— University of Exeter News (@UniofExeterNews) February 26, 2020
The research was published by a team from the University of Exeter, and the team went to Cornwall to conduct the study. Lead researcher Madeleine Goumas was the one who handled the food.
To assess the seagull behaviour, Goumas used two unopened granola bars (Blueberry Ma Baker Flapjack bars, to be precise) and placed them under buckets. She removed the buckets simultaneously to reveal the granola bars then picked up one of the granola bars and handled it for about 20 seconds before putting it back down.
Goumas even wore dark sunglasses to avoid giving off any eye gaze clues to the birds that may have impacted results. In the end, they found that 79 percent of the seagulls that approached the food favoured the granola bar that had been handled.
“Our study shows that cues from humans may play an important part in the way gulls find food, and could partly explain why gulls have been successful in colonising urban areas," Goumas said in a University of Exeter news story about the research.
To drive the point home, the research team did the same test using an inedible object: a piece of a sponge. Even though they couldn't eat it, 65 percent of seagulls tried to pick at the sponge that Goumas touched.
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