The RSPB has advised the public to steer clear of seagull chicks they find in towns or cities, after particularly aggressive displays by an adult gull in Belfast.
The avian charity said it is aware of the bird making a nuisance of itself between Adelaide Street and Alfred Street in the city centre, but said the situation is unlikely to last long – adding that the swooping bird is essentially harmless.
The creature has been dive-bombing passers-by for a couple of days in a bid to scare the “predators” away from its chick, which could be seen waddling about on the streets, vainly flapping its wings.
Susan Kula from the RSPB had heard about this and other such instances.
She said: “Gulls are nesting more and more these days in the city centre. Predator-free nesting sites on rooftops and easy access to food in the city centre means it’s a perfect location to raise their young.
“The gull chicks will often come onto ground before they’re able to fly.
“They can spend up to a couple of weeks on the ground; the parents will continue to bring them food and see off anything they see as a threat”.
Passers-by should keep their distance from the chick, she said.
There is likely to be nothing wrong with it, and she described what was happening as part of a “natural cycle”.
She also said that the parent bird’s swoops pose little real danger, too.
“They are just trying to warn you off and wouldn’t be likely to do you any harm,” she said.
“They’re just being protective parents”.