‘Silly season’ for seagulls is approaching – a time when tiny chicks are likely to take a tumble off roofs.
But rescue officers at Wadars, Worthing’s animal rescue charity, are warning concerned residents not to intervene when they see a baby bird on the ground.
“Very often they are best left where they are,” advises animal rescue officer Billy Elliott.
Seagulls make their nests on roofs between May to September.
All it takes is a particularly strong gust of wind to topple an unsteady chick – which has not yet realised it can fly – to the ground, Billy said.
Worried residents often rush to pick up the baby birds and transport them to wildlife centres, he said.
But seagulls are ‘intelligent and attentive’ parents.
They will drop food from the nest and encourage the babies to fly back up – which they usually do.
“Birds won’t abandon their babies,” Billy said.
Last year in silly season, Wadars was called out to almost 700 incidents with seagulls, most of which could have been left alone.
Billy warns that in 60 per cent of cases where members of the public handle the birds, the animals die of shock.
His advice is to take action only if a baby bird on the ground is at risk of attack.
Residents should carefully scoop the bird up and pop it back onto the roof, or into a bush or tree, where it will be safe and camouflaged.
However, protective parent seagulls can get aggressive if you approach their chicks,
Billy warns. “They may dive bomb, and have been known to strike people on the head or defecate on them,” Billy said.
While umbrellas are good deterrents, he said: “If the adults are causing a problem, give us a call.
“We are quite happy to deal with them.”
But residents should know that volunteers will always seek to return the baby seagulls to their nest.
“We will not take the birds away because they are an inconvenience,” he said.
Anyone wishing to prevent nesting on their roofs needs to take action between September and May, outside the nesting season.
But those more fond of the seaside creatures should be glad to know that while their numbers are declining globally, Billy said: “Seagulls love living in Worthing.”
Wadars needs more volunteers to help during the busy silly season.
Call 01903 247 111 to find out more.