General Question

syz's avatar

Why do (sea) gulls spend the winters in shopping mall parking lots?

Asked by syz (32727 points ) January 24th, 2013

Obviously, not all gulls hang out in parking lots, but I invariably see flocks in mall and large shopping center parking lots in the winter. Are paved areas that much warmer? Anyone know?

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12 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

More food sources in bins and skips? More people equates with more meals, snacking and thus more waste edibles?

syz's avatar

I’ve read that, but wouldn’t we see them hanging out by the dumpsters if food was the motivator? Or at fast food restaurants (I just got a flash of the movie “The Birds”, but attacking corpulent American fast food eaters). I see some at the landfill, but not nearly as many as I would expect for a smorgasbord like that.

flutherother's avatar

Just a guess but being seabirds maybe they prefer open spaces though you see plenty in city streets looking for food.

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I would guess it’s slightly warmer, but more likely just the openess and it’s usually cleared of snow and ice. I didn’t realize it but inland seagulls here in the northeast migrate back to the ocean in the fall. But it makes sense if the lakes freeze over.

Bellatrix's avatar

Chips (or you would say fries) of course! Seagulls love chips. I particularly like the cranky, territorial gull. There’s always one.

YARNLADY's avatar

People feed them, especially chips and french fries.

Edit: I tried an experiment to impress my little grandkids last week at the mall. Not a single bird in sight, none! I threw a piece of bread into the air. The 5 year old said “What are you doing, grandma?” I waited a few seconds and threw another one. Suddenly we were surrounded by birds, mostly the Sea Gull type, fighting with the little black sparrows. We spent the next few minutes feeding them old hot dog buns.

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
wundayatta's avatar

Food. Isn’t that why any animal goes anywhere? Food.

gailcalled's avatar

^^^Or good bargains

anartist's avatar

Parking lots are large expanses of grey and migrating birds sometimes mistake them for bodies of water. I wonder if the appearance of seagulls over parking lots along coastal regions is far greater than parking lots in the midwest, say Kansas or Oklahoma?

SomeoneElse's avatar

@gailcalled I have always thought that urban seagulls are just waiting for an opportunity to snap up a bargain in the warm coat department, but the lack of a credit card prevented them doing so.
The food business is just a bluff as they can find a really varied diet in towns, and then there’s the scaring people when they dive down on them – seagull humour is pretty limited since they haven’t met Neil Diamond (Jonathan Livingstone Seagull) and got into the film industry.

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