Nature Triumphs Over Nurture: Urban Seagulls Defy Expectations by Preferring Seafood

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A study of herring gull chicks shows a strong preference for seafood over urban-derived foods, like bread and cat food, regardless of their upbringing on urban diets, emphasizing the resilience of their natural dietary inclinations in an urban setting.

Every few days the gull chicks were presented with a choice of all four foods in different bowls, to test which they preferred – and all gulls strongly favored fish. “Human-associated foods are often both reliably present and easy to obtain – but when fish is available they clearly prefer it.” Inzani said a combination of reduced fish stocks in UK waters – coupled with abundant and easy access to food waste in towns – may mean it is not as profitable for gulls to spend a lot of energy going out to sea to forage.

When presented with all four foods together on days 5, 10, 15, and 35 of the study, both groups consistently favored fish – and even those that tried the bread rarely ate much of it.


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