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Close encounter of the weird kind

So I’d just started walking Ava this morning on the trail that winds through town. And a seagull, with obvious deliberation, circles overhead and comes to a landing three feet in front of Ava’s jaws. Then starts walking toward her.

Ava has a killer prey drive and has sometimes snatched at birds, cats, and in one case a Chihuahua before I could snatch her back. In this case, though, she was completely nonplussed. She looked at me for guidance. I looked at the gull’s sharp, pointy beak. We both made a long, slow arc around the bird and kept on walking.

Birdo followed. We picked up our pace. Eventually he fell behind.

But he was there again when we returned, and this time followed us all the way to the car, which was parked in a field next to a seafood processing plant. I got behind the wheel. The bird stood there looking at me. He seemed uninjured, but lost, hungry (repeatedly opening his mouth wide like a baby bird in a nest), and far too trusting of mammalian critters. His left leg bore a tiny blue band.

I dialed Furrydoc. “What do you know about seagulls?”

We came to the same conclusion: that this bird had been released (perhaps prematurely) from a rescue, and dropped near the seafood plant in hopes it would learn to feed itself. So far, not so good. It was no more than 100 yards from a seagull’s idea of a banquet and not getting the message.

Furrydoc gave me the names of two nearby wildlife rescues. I called and left voicemails, but got no humans.

I knew it wasn’t the most responsible thing to feed the poor guy. But I went home, got a slice of bread, and came back to find Birdo right where we’d left him. Creating a bread-crumb trail, which he eagerly, at first frantically, gobbled, I lured him to a pile of leavings from the seafood processor, dropped the rest of the bread on the heap, and walked off quickly. I figured he’d realize he’d found seagull paradise and stay there, plucking at seafood bits.

But nope. By the time I was back at the car … so was Birdo, following at my heels.

I left him there and am now home awaiting calls from people who understand what goes on in the tiny brains of gulls. I know in theory he’s got to learn to survive on his own — or not. But damn, it felt like leaving a kitten or a puppy to fend for itself.


That was definitely the strangest thing that’s happened to me in a while. And just this morning, idling before going out into the cool mist, I’d been reading an article about Rod Serling and The Twilight Zone and had placed a library hold on a biography of the man.

Cue theme.


  1. Shel
    Shel August 27, 2016 10:49 am

    Glad it didn’t happen to me. Not enjoyable.

  2. Pat
    Pat August 27, 2016 11:51 am

    I think *you’ve* been rescued, Claire. You’ve got yourself another pet. And Ava must agree – she didn’t attack it.

  3. Claire
    Claire August 27, 2016 12:17 pm

    I admit it was a bit scary being “stalked” by a bird. Rod Serling wasn’t the only creative genius who came to mind. I pondered whether Alfred Hitchcock was somewhere in the background, with Bernard Hermann music sawing eerily away.

    But Birdo, for all the scary beak and odd behavior, did seem like a friendly guy. If I don’t hear from the wildlife rescuers, I might go back with a towel, see if I can wrap him in it, and bring him home. LOL, Pat, another pet I don’t need. But I can’t leave him out there when he’s so overly trusting and so clueless about taking care of himself.

  4. Matt, another
    Matt, another August 27, 2016 12:50 pm

    Ask if his name is Jonathan. If it is, he might be a messenger.

  5. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty August 27, 2016 12:51 pm

    Always wondered about these outfits that release captive animals to the wild. Can’t imagine why they’d do that with a seagull anyway… good grief, there are billions of the silly things.

    Reminds me of the time I came home from work and found a hummingbird in the middle of the living room, with the two dogs and the cat (only had him a short time) sitting in a circle watching it. They had a pet door to the back yard, and I frequently came home to little hunting “gifts” inside.

    The hummingbird didn’t seem injured, but looked dead, so I figured the animals had simply frightened it to death. I got a sheet of cardboard and slid it under the little thing, then carried it outside. I stood in the orchard for a few moments looking at the beautiful creature, then stroked it just once along its shimmering purple throat. Suddenly, it launched into the air and was gone in a flash. I didn’t know that hummingbirds played possum. 🙂

  6. Ellendra
    Ellendra August 27, 2016 1:10 pm

    Sounds like it imprinted too much on humans while being rescued. Possibly it was rescued at too young an age. It doesn’t see piles of fish parts as “food”, it only associates humans with food.

    If it’s that attached to humans, it shouldn’t have been released. I’d suggest finding out the rescue operation, if you can, and see if your animal-rescue contacts can do some investigating.

    Somebody there didn’t know what they were doing.

  7. Claire
    Claire August 27, 2016 1:31 pm

    Ellendra — I think you’ve nailed it. If Birdo came out of a rescue, they didn’t prepare him adequately for the wild.

    I still haven’t talked with any wildlife-rescue humans. But I did go back to see if he was still there. He wasn’t. I’ll check again over the next few days and I’m now carrying a beach towel, a laundry basket, heavy gloves, and a slice of bread in the car, just in case we see him again and he wants to come with us.

  8. Shel
    Shel August 27, 2016 1:35 pm

    I never took him(?) to be threatening. I just felt the same sympathy you did.

  9. Claire
    Claire August 27, 2016 1:42 pm

    Jonathan. Never could stand that sappy book. Probably should have loved its message about non-conformity and reaching beyond limits. But … sappy. Made about a bazillion dollars for its creator, though. Can’t argue with that.

  10. Claire
    Claire August 27, 2016 1:44 pm

    Shel — Ah. I did feel sympathy for him at the end and afterward. But you know, up close an erratically behaving seagull actually is kinda scary.

  11. LarryA
    LarryA August 27, 2016 2:12 pm

    I usually default to Stephen King.

    Around here weirdness in wild animals usually leads to thoughts of rabies, but I don’t think birds do that. Your guess sounds accurate. It sounds like someone raised it, habituated it to humans, then dumped it. Charitably a Wannabe Rescuer.

    I have a feeling Ava was weirded out, and will probably not play well with the gull long-term.

  12. Claire
    Claire August 27, 2016 2:52 pm

    I admit I briefly wondered about rabid seagulls, too.

    You’re probably right about Ava just being momentarily “weirded out.” OTOH, though she’s got that killer drive, she’s gotten used to having her own kitty over time, so I think she could get accustomed to any critter, as long as she didn’t eat it first.

    Oddly enough, it was the cat who first made the effort to be friendly with her, despite Ava’s obvious proclivities. (I had three dogs then and the cat went straight for Ava as her would-be buddy, ignoring the “nicer” dogs.) And this morning the gull’s first impulse was to go to Ava, not to me. Strange, but true.

  13. Claire
    Claire August 27, 2016 4:13 pm

    Pat — yes, I’ve seen my “vicious” Ava show odd hesitance to hurt little mice or voles, so there’s no telling who she wants to kill and who she’d like to nurse.

    Ugh on the superbug! I, too, was more concerned about parasites. So yeah, if I can rescue Birdo, that’ll be a concern. But the good (and rather funny) news is that Furrydoc accidentally ran into the perfect person today and has already got him half talked into taking Birdo if we can bring him in.

  14. Shel
    Shel August 27, 2016 6:05 pm

    Now that you mention it, I guess I wouldn’t know, since I’ve never been there.

  15. Claire
    Claire August 28, 2016 5:00 am

    Interesting. The band on Birdo was something entirely different than anything pictured there. It was so small that, if there were numbers on it, they couldn’t have been read without handling the bird. Furrydoc says the government doesn’t band seagulls, so likely as not the band I saw was from a private rescue. Never did hear from a human, so nobody to check with until/unless Birdo turns up again and adopts me.

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