The Trouble With Urban Birds

Nesting Lesser Black-backed Gulls on a central Blackpool roof from my office. Presumably the adult was born elsewhere to have been ringed.

I thought this might be a depressing entry for my 100th blog post, but it turns out that was the more cheery one about House Sparrows. This one visits some other recurring and less positive themes about urban birds.

The Gazette ran a story yesterday about the Council shooting some pigeons that were causing issues with the door mechanism in a multi-storey car park. It’s not really appropriate to comment on the differing views on this without the full facts. I am though going to comment on some of the comments.

Almost inevitably there were cries to extend this ‘cull’ to seagulls. Being charitable you assume this is because people don’t know Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls are in serious decline. When this was pointed out to one of the cull proponents they actually knew Herring Gulls are Amber Listed, and of conservation concern due to steep declines.

Let’s just think about that for a moment. A species of gull in a seaside resort. As associated with the town as sticks of rock, kiss me quick hats, donkeys and deck chairs. Represented in the town crest. And people know that they are in trouble but still want them exterminated because they are a mild inconvenience to their own lives.

Coincidentally today a story has broken about Liverpool Cathedral installing netting to stop Peregrines nesting there. I am not a fan of culls or prevention of nesting but I can understand why they might be necessary to protect endangered other species, or because a species has reached plague proportions and is damaging crops. I don’t think that really applies to any of the urban birds of north-west England, we are just intolerant of the birds that tolerate us the most.

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