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Seagulls in the city

8:05 AM, Jul 10, 2012   |    comments
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PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- You expect to see herring gulls or seagulls along the coast of Maine. However, in recent years, they have been moving into the city in increasing numbers. A researcher from the University of New England is studying the cost and benefit of herring gulls nesting on roofs.

Drs. Noah Perlut and Peggy Friar are identifying and gathering baseline information about Portland's herring gull population. They are looking at why the birds are living on Portland's rooftops and comparing this population with herring gull populations on Maine islands.

"In the first year all of their breeding was identical," Perlut said.  He pointed out that causes of mortality varied.  On islands, the gulls face predators and flooding.  In the city, they fail from building management activities and extreme heat and dehydration.

Herring gulls are protected.  Their numbers had dwindled in the 19th Century when they were sought after for their eggs and feathers. Now they are protected.

Their numbers in the city have grown to where many people find them to be a nuisance.  Dr. Peggy Friar of UNE finds them an aggressive bird, but notes that they have a place in the environment. She says there are some things that can be done to limit the birds, "Some of the things that they can do is not feed them, reduce the food that is discarded by boats at sea such as bait and so forth." 

Each identified gull has a band with three letters.  If a member of the public is able to read those letters, they can report the gull as well as its location to researchers.  To do this they should just email Dr. Perlut at nperlut@une.edu

 

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