Wildlife roams campus, local community: Seagulls

I still remember the first time I saw a seagull. It was a rainy afternoon, and Ian exhausted sophomoretrudged past loud construction sites and whirring golf carts until a small but swift shadow sprawled on the pavement caught my eye. ‘Twas a plane! ‘Twas Superman!

No, ‘twas not. It was a bird!

The majestic creaturelater determined to be a California Gull, but can also be called the larus californicus if you want to sound smartersoared high above me, its distinctive, sharp beak piercing through the air and its expansive gray feathers flapping in the wind. In fact, these seagulls have wingspans anywhere from 48 to 54 inches, and an overall length of 21 to 22 inches.

Recognized by their ear splitting huoh-huoh-huoh call, the seagulls have a diet that consists primarily of insects, rodents, fish, the eggs and young of other birds and garbage. So, to the eyes of these squawking birds, landfills and garbage bins are essentially sources of endless food supplies. Take a look around trash cans around Gunn’s campus, or anywhere that food is present, and you might just find a seagull about to dig into a yummy meal! Be careful, though: one impatient seagull once accidentally dropped a half-eaten ham sandwich on my head as I exited the batcave. 

These gulls, commonly associated with the beach, are mostly found along the coasts of the San Francisco Bay and are fortunately becoming more easy to spot. In fact, scientists recorded only 24 seagulls in the area in 1980; this number jumped to over 53,000 today. This increase may be the result of seagulls having decided that the levees of the bay were great to build nests and lay eggs. However, lately more gulls have been colliding with airplanes or swarming landfills and local neighborhoods.

So, be kind to our fellow seagulls, which can be found anywhere from Alcatraz Island, Union City to even the quads of Palo Alto schools. Who knows? Maybe you’ll be the next lucky student to be ambushed with lunch leftovers.