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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Gull man again

By Jamie Lutton

I was on my way home last night, in the early evening, when I heard the gulls again. They were crying so loudly, and there were so many of them, that I knew that man must be back.

I went uphill a block from my shop, and wiggled through a hole in the fence, to come out in the back of the parking lot behind Dick's Drive-in.

The gull-man was there again. He had the same gang of gulls around him. I watched them and him again, carefully.  What I thought was a different breed of gull  in the crowd was actually juveniles; they are called 'greylings'.  Gulls live a very long time, 40-50 years, so there were few young, only 5% of the total number of gulls.  They stood about, and did not seem to be treated differently than the adults in the mix, by the adults.

Like the last time, the man had many packets of food to give them, all wrapped up separately, in the black wheeled luggage he had with him.


The man was trying to psych out the gulls. He would not look in the direction he was throwing the bits of garbage; he would throw the food suddenly over his shoulder or to his side, and the gulls would suddenly dash for it, squabbling for it. They hopped up and down, like manic winged sheep, in the dusky, wet cool night.  I counted heads again; nearly one hundred gulls had showed up for treats. He  saw me watching him. I waved to him, but he did not acknowledge me; as he was focused on his birds.

He did not stay that long; it did not take that long to empty his packed up bags of scraps for the gulls.  I also felt that he knew he had to hurry, as a police officer or the manager of Dennys would probably stop him,  for some excuse of noise or falling gull guano.

I am sure that summoning  and feeding  gulls violates some city ordinance. I told the story to a birder friend of mine last night, trying to amuse her (failed); as she said mildly that it was not a good thing to feed the gulls. She is very strict sort of birder; one who goes out with binoculars and spots migrating birds in the wild (her eyes are better than mine).   I suppose not; of course she is 'right'.  I should get my bird watching in by going out with binoculars out and watching rare birds, instead of enjoying common garbage eating city scavengers.   And that homeless man should be standing on the sidewalk with a sign asking for spare change, like a proper homeless person, instead of the dreamer he is, who loves the gulls.

If we had laws that were enforced strictly enough to keep the gull feeder from doing what he is doing,  all the time, the world would be full of  citizen police spies, and I and you would be walking the streets and in our homes dreading the eyes of others on us,  watching us for committing some many of the infractions that might land us in jail or fined or scolded.

I would hate to live like that, myself. I openly throw treats to crows, and as they are native birds, and I do so in the morning,  no one says anything to me, yet.  I suppose it is a bad thing,  a not-environmentally conscious thing somehow, (gasp) but it is not against the law, yet. Maybe someday soon it will be, as humans love to make laws controlling each other, particularily when it is for their own good. 

I like living in a world where that eccentric homeless gull feeder is left alone, and fat gulls (and crows) float above us in the skies, looking hopefully down at the humans below.

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