The Hitchcock classic "The Birds" became a little too real in a British seaside town this week. Seagulls there are attacking residents and dive-bombing mail carriers.
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Perranporth, a small town on Cornwall's northern coast, has seen its share of angry gulls, but attacks on residents seem to be worse than ever. Seagulls are currently nesting and actively protecting their chicks. Apparently bright colors aggravate the birds, causing them to swoop down and target people's heads.
"In the past five years the seagulls have become more aggressive," 67-year-old resident Eric Hardinge told the South West News Service. "The birds need to be culled."
However, most gulls are protected and require special permitting to target.
The Royal Mail postal workers, with their bright red uniforms, have been particularly vulnerable to attack. It's gotten so bad that the service just stopped delivering mail there because a postwoman was attacked repeatedly by birds. A spokesperson told SWNS that they'd resume deliveries as soon as it's safe again.
Seagulls can cause serious injury, sending people to the hospital with blood gushing from their heads. As the Guardian's Jon Henley pointed out, a diving gull has attack talons on each heel, a sharp two-inch beak, a four-and-a-half foot wingspan, more than two pounds of heft and high speeds. Thriving on food scraps, the urban gull population is growing by 20 percent each year, Henley added.
The birds are brazen about targeting food. A teenage tourist in nearby Newquay just had a seagull steal an ice cream cone right out of his mouth as he was eating it. I feel you, kid. When I was little, a seagull in San Diego stole my sandwich before I could take a bite.
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For the time being, Perranporth residents have to bravely pick up their own mail from the post office. They're also being advised to heed the seagulls' warning calls and try to shield their heads if dive-bombed. The chicks are usually out of the nest later in July. After that, the gulls will probably go back to being a mere nuisance.
Photo: A resident in Cornwall fends off a seagull. Credit: South West News Service.