How to convince a territorial seagull to leave me alone
June 26, 2009 2:19 PM   Subscribe

Evil seagull filter: On the building opposite, in the last couple of weeks, a malign presence has appeared. A seagull that thinks he owns the block. Whenever I go out onto my terrace (I'm on the sixth floor, most of the nearby buildings are five or six floors, but I'm one of the few that has a terrace) it decides to take umbrage and comes squawking and crapping until I'm driven indoors. Is there anything I can do to discourage it? If not how long might I have to put up with its shenanigans?

I'm in Spain, if that makes a difference and have no access to firearms or the like, and am unwilling to throw stuff at it for fear of braining some poor pedestrian six floors below.
posted by itsjustanalias to Pets & Animals (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
A tennis racquet?
posted by Solomon at 2:21 PM on June 26, 2009

Put a plastic owl on your terrace.
posted by Big_B at 2:27 PM on June 26, 2009

A BB gun would fix his wagon. You could not pump it up very much, so the BB just stings.

A wrist rocket would also let you nail the bird without permanently injuring him.
posted by musofire at 2:46 PM on June 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

If not how long might I have to put up with its shenanigans?

It's very possible that it's protecting a nest, in which case the behavior will stop when the young ones fledge. Should take a couple to a few weeks.
posted by mudpuppie at 2:53 PM on June 26, 2009

A super soaker water blaster would probably do the job.
posted by torquemaniac at 2:54 PM on June 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

Seconding the owl. You can find it, and other deterrents, like floating gator heads, "irri-tape" and scarecrows here.

NB: I've never used the linked company
posted by reverend cuttle at 2:54 PM on June 26, 2009

And on further thought, if the seagull is indeed protecting its young, any action on your part (including the fake owl) is going to be taken for aggression against its babies that must be defended. The humane, possibly annoying, thing to do would be to wait it out.
posted by mudpuppie at 2:56 PM on June 26, 2009

Mod note: Maybe keep it non jokester-violent here, please.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:56 PM on June 26, 2009

Have you done something to piss this gull off? Recent studies have shown that some birds have memory for people who have harassed them. See this article about crows for example. Why not try throwing food at him? They are pretty good at catching food. You run the risk of it becoming a pet but at least it won't dive bomb you any more.
posted by birdwatcher at 4:04 PM on June 26, 2009

You can make his roosting area very uncomfortable by applying some bird control spray.

Maybe fill a balloon with it and sploosh it on his favorite spot when he isn't around.
posted by orme at 4:16 PM on June 26, 2009

Oh sorry, i guess his being on the "opposite building" isn't going to make the spraying very easy. Missed that first time around.

Birds also don't like disorienting lights. You could try hanging some reflective dangling things on your balcony to help keep him away, at least when it's sunny.
posted by orme at 4:20 PM on June 26, 2009

How about scaring him with an umbrella?
posted by archagon at 7:30 PM on June 26, 2009

First I'd call the local animal control office and see if they can help or at least offer advice. (Not sure what it's called in Spain, but it's whoever you'd call to deal with a wild animal running loose.)

If they can't, see if you can stay with it for 2 months, which is about how long it will take eggs to hatch and the young to leave the nest. (30 days to hatch, 35-40 days to leave the nest.)

Do you know where its nest is? Have you contacted the owner/manager of the building where it lives?
posted by Ookseer at 9:52 PM on June 26, 2009

Best answer: I grew up in the country side, and much like the kid in A Christmas Story, I spent years on end hoping for a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas. One year I finally got it, along with requisite gun-instruction from dad, and then I pretty much ran amok around the country side shooting anything that I could manage to point my gun at that was not another person.

At one point, a sparrow on a telephone wire came into my sights, and being the crack shot I was, I dropped him. So I run over there, and here's this poor fucking sparrow with his beak kind of slowly gasping open and shut, and he's just looking up at me with this "what's happening to me?" look of fear in his eyes. That bird had a soul - I could see it - and it was slipping away and I was responsible.

I went and found dad even though I knew I'd be in trouble - that's how horrible I felt - this is the one instance I can remember doing something bad and not hoping it wouldn't be found out, but wanting to resolve it immediately. Dad came out with me and took a look, then he made me give it a close-range shot to the back of its small head, to put it out of its misery. Dad waited while I tearfully buried it, and then he just walked away, nothing more was ever said of it. And of course I never shot another bird just for the hell of it again (I would later hunt for food/sport with other professional hunters, but found it to be a profoundly different experience).

The gull is probably big enough to withstand a light BB gun shot, but not if you hit it in the head, or eye, or something. Trust me, you don't want that.

I'd see if you can confirm a nest, and if so, wait it out. If not - animal control. If that's not an option and you're sure there's no nest - I think the super soaker is an excellent idea.
posted by allkindsoftime at 12:03 AM on June 27, 2009 [4 favorites]

My husband is leaning over my shoulder saying, "Airzooka! It wouldn't hurt the bird, just discourage it."
posted by Lexica at 10:50 AM on June 27, 2009

The only seagulls whose nesting habits I've been aware, were ground-nesting. In the Great Lakes, the young are out on the water floating, before they can fly. Boating near the babies is a great way to get harassed.

Have you tried some simple respect? Like, you know, "Good morning, bird". He's yelling at you, so you may as well try telling it that you're not out to cause harm. Silly, I know. But sometimes this sort of thing seems to work (isn't selection bias fun?).
posted by Goofyy at 8:23 PM on June 29, 2009

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