Homer - our Tame Seagull

Homer - our Tame Seagull

I’d like to introduce you to Homer – our tame seagull. Homer as in the Simpsons. I’m not sure why, I didn’t christen him!

Seagulls pair for life, and they can live for many years. All baring a fatality they can live until they are 20+, so hopefully this pair have got some time left. With everyone round and about knowing them by name and watching out for their welfare, they’re well looked after!

Seagulls are fascinating, clever birds. They get a bad name, but their less pleasant habits are learned in taking advantage of our own behaviour. After all, they were here first.

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DISCLAIMER: We do not advocate the feeding of seagulls in any public places or where they can cause nuisance. Feeding them scraps in town centres and at the seafront encourages them to swoop and steal food. Excessive numbers of seagulls at the beach can lead to sea water pollution. This also applies to pigeons and other feral birds.

A neighbour started it  with Homer, our tame seagull

It was a neighbour of ours who first started feeding a seagull and got him hand tame. Homer made hay while the sun shone, sitting on their garden wall and staring into the house until food was forthcoming.

At first I wasn’t sure whether the bird we call Homer was the same one. Then I found out that we each have a pair of tame gulls. I’ve seen them begging at our neighbours house and at ours at the same time, so they have to be different birds. It’s the life of Riley for them – all they have to do to get their next meal is to look cute!

Spring on the chimney pot

Each year, Mr and Mrs Homer set up nest on a nearby chimney pot. They build a scraggy heap of straw that eventually becomes home, to usually three ugly ducklings.

Homer's nest with baby seagulls
Homer’s nest with baby seagulls

We watch the babies walking about on the chimney pot and having a peck at each other, then they get increasingly adventurous and start jumping up and down and onto the roof below. Watching them makes us feel really anxious. If they fall onto the roof tiles they usually get ignored and eventually die.

As they get well fed with plenty of food, Homer’s family of three usually makes it to adulthood. Other gulls might only manage to raise one or two birds to maturity. Their problems aren’t usually a lack of food but falling off the roof, being hit by cars and other accidents.

As the chicks get bigger, Homer gets increasingly cheeky with his requests for food. In winter when he’s only looking after himself, he comes for breakfast but is less demanding. When the chicks are being fed he gets increasingly ravenous and begs harder and harder as they get bigger.

Feed my  Babies!

When the family gets big enough, he brings them to be fed too. We have mum and dad and the kids all on the lawn, fighting over food.

Homer and one of his babies
Homer and one of his babies

The first week is a bit tense as they learn how to fly over the garden fence and bushes. In fact they usually bring them to our garden on the day that they fledge and just leave them with us for the day as chief babysitters. They know that they are safe and we will look after them – not that it does much for our nerves!

The parents are good at maintaining order with a sharp peck, and a seagull can actually give you quite a sharp peck with that beak.

At the back end of winter when the kids are big enough, Homer will start to shoo them off and make sure that they go. Then mum and dad can then start the whole process again the year after, with another nest and more babies. As they say, That’s Life!

When your Tame Seagull gets Old

It’s now the summer of 2019 and we’ve been feeding Homer for at least 10 years. We’ve got no idea how old he was when we started feeding him, but he and his wife have got to be knocking on now.

For the last couple of years they’ve gone through the motions of building a nest and sitting on it. They seem to be laying eggs as we can see them turning them with their feet. It seems that their eggs are infertile though, because for a couple of years we haven’t heard the pitter-patter of tiny webbed feet.

A pair of gulls have set up home in next doors garden though, and seem to be eyeing us up for potential foster-feeders. There’s a clear demarcation line along next door’s garage roof, and ‘the neighbours’ aren’t allowed to cross the ridge tiles or they get a peck! Try to swoop into our garden for a crafty mouthful of food and there’s trouble. In the shape of Homer getting hold of ‘next door’ by the neck! There’s only room for one pair of birds at our cafe, we draw the line at Mr and Mrs Homer.

They’ve got three children, currently three fluffy balls of cuteness, who are running about after mummy and daddy. So it’s nice to see babies again!

This years baby seagull
This years baby seagull

Service please

All year round, as soon as Homer sees movement in the house he’s there. He has vantage points on the roof, walls and fences, where he can see into different rooms in the house to watch us as we go about our business.

Homer, our tame seagull, begging for food

When he gets impatient and thinks we should be attending to his needs, he bangs on the window. He watches us go up the stairs to the office, and ten minutes later, we hear ‘bang, bang, bang’ and all crack out laughing as he bangs his beak on the window at the foot of our stairway! We’ve got velux windows in the roof of our office and he’s even worked out which ones to look through and tap on to get attention!

Homer watching through the office window!
Homer watching through the office window!

Lunch Please!

When he’s in full demand at the height of feeding babies, he also comes and bangs on the back door, which is really funny.

Homer, our tame seagull, knocking for food

He sits on the fence in the back garden, watching us while we garden or hang out the washing in summer. If we have an afternoon in the garden he’ll lie down to sunbathe on the roof. Then he joins us on the lawn, padding about right at the side of the dogs, who are just not interested in him at all.

Our tame seagull doing a spot of sunbathing and keeping an eye on us...
Our tame seagull doing a spot of sunbathing and keeping an eye on us…

Homer, our pet seagull, is a gannet for tinned dog food. I buy the cheapest one in the shop, although it’s not always easy getting a cheap version of the loaf variety without gravy… And he’s not daft either. If there’s something less tasty on the menu he’ll leave that on the lawn for less discerning birds – and wait for his dog food!

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He’s a very good waste disposal machine which eats all our kitchen scraps. When we’ve had a meal we take him any left over meat scraps, fish skin,  forgotten cheese in the fridge. In fact anything fatty or protein based – he doesn’t like vegetables. We only have to go in the garden and shout him or wave and he comes immediately to be fed.

There’s never a scrap of bird food on our lawn come night time!

An honour

It always thrills me that you can shout a wild bird and he will come to you. Amazing. We can stand on our lawn and wave at them sat on their chimney pot and they immediately get to their feet and fly straight to us.

I’m also certain that our tame seagull recognises us too. He spends most of his time hanging about around our house (can you blame him!) and I would guess that he doesn’t fly very far away. As soon as he sees us come back home if we’ve been out, he flies to land on the fence to stand on sentry duty, looking through the kitchen window!

One day in the summer we went for a walk towards Rossall School. After a little while we realised that we were being followed by a seagull, and in fact it was Homer.

Homer comes for a walk

He followed us all the way to the end of our walk and all the way back home. He’s done it since then too. How clever is that.

Homer the pet seagull comes for a walk, part 2

I find it a great pleasure that a completely wild bird trusts me enough to come and take food out of my hand, and watch me pottering about in the garden.

Some people might say you shouldn’t have a wild animal reliant on you for food. I’m quite prepared to continue feeding Homer until he draws his last breath, even if it takes another 20 years. It’s just not fair to start feeding in this way unless I you’re prepared to carry on. Don’t get an animal dependant on you and then withdraw your help with potentially fatal consequences. (Think about it if you have a wild animal to feed).

A Good Deterrent

I know that seagulls are like Marmite and some people hate them intensely. But for me, being part of this seagulls life is a thrill of living at the seaside, and I know that lots of other people have their own tame seagulls too, so Homer isn’t the only one. You’ve added lots of stories about your own treasured pets. Read on to the comments below to find them.

Plus which, having your own pet seagull does actually keep all the other neighbourhood seagulls out of your garden. They’re very territorial and once they’ve adopted you, you’ll find that they chase all of the other gulls away. It’s very unlikely that you’ll have trouble with dive-bombing parents and all the seagull behaviour that people complain about.

And for anyone who thinks they are in conflict with other garden birds? Well in my experience, they’re not. All kinds of birds feed in our garden each day and the different species don’t take the blindest bit of notice of each other, feeding practically side by side. That is, of course, until the sparrowhawk pays a visit – then they all scatter!

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12 Comments
  1. Avatar

    I too have a pet seagull however mine has only one usable leg and every time he tries to fly I’m nervous like a mother would be leaving her baby to fly in the sky without her? He has recently well in the last two days flown over the houses and landed on the other side where he just sits screaming for me I have had to get in my car and go Clifton Drive to see if I can find him I also have dogs cats and Horses and they are not half as much trouble as Stevie seagull I don’t know how I’m going to protect him in the next week when he flies further and further away I don’t know whether he’s going to come back or whether he’s going to be injured and I cannot find any kind of information about this on the internet ?

    1. Avatar

      I know what you mean Joella! I worry about Homer too, I think he’s getting to be an old bird now (he’s been with us over 10 years) and I worry about him being attacked, run over or just dying of old age. However, at the end of the day you can only do your best. They aren’t pets, they are wild animals, so protect and look after them as best as you can but accept that they live a wild life.

  2. Avatar

    Hi! I live in Cleveleys & also have a tame seagull just like Homer I call (King) Henry. He started coming last year when I fed my stray cat who has to live in my garage due to my naughty cat hating dog & sitting on the garage crying for a share. I started feeding him scraps & that was it! He had a family then but they all flew away at the end of summer. He just returned a few weeks ago with a new baby! Maybe he is actually Henrietta! I love him so much. He sometimes comes 5 x a day sometimes but I try to only feed him twice so he still catches his own. I have been feeding him fish, sweet potato, cheese, a bit of brown bread & shredded wheat. I am definitely going to try the dog food idea I tried dry dog food but he didn’t like it. What type do you buy I want to make sure I am feeding okay! Thanks. It’s nice to know someone else loves them ☺

  3. Avatar

    We too have two seagulls that live on next doors roof but we have always fed them our scraps. But we also have a gull with only one foot, which we also feed and even though it could be a long way off it will hear us and come for it`s food. We wonder where they go at night, do you know? One of the next door roof seagulls , had a very bad foot, it was swollen, we fed it food as it just stayed around, the top skin went green so we fed it some bits of pain killers and it got better . It shed the skin on that foot but it is left with a rust spots on both legs, in patches, any ideas please. Regards Julie Warburton

  4. Avatar

    I too, have a resident gull couple who I can feed by hand and they left me a dried out leafy twig, which I tried to give back thinking it was for their nest, he or she did not want it, it was for me I realised for being their friend. They talk to me in seagull (herring gull) language. They are so beautiful and gracious. Come daily. I love them, they are so gentle taking food from your hand! I try to give them bird food! Healthy food and they also like fresh water! ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

  5. Avatar

    We too have a resident pair living on our roof, Syd the Sexy Seagull has just one chick that we can see. Last year, we found two dead babies in our garden – so we are keeping a close eye on them. Syd will swoop down when we come home and ask for food, he also brought nesting material as a gift for us and when I take the dogs out at night and in the early morning hours, Syd will fly over my head in circles skwarking and we have a chat. I’m nervous that our neighbours may think us terrible for feeding him, but it’s our duty and our love. He will sit on our window sill and look I, reminding us he is hungry and has kids to feed. They are such beautiful creatures and it seems like Cleveleys in the place to be for seagull love and appreciation. Long live the gulls and all who love them! Xxx

  6. Avatar

    I too have a couple of tame seagulls — Cyril and Ada. They’re there on top of the garage every morning (lunchtime, late afternoon) waiting to be fed. They’ll knock on the window if they think we’ve forgotten them.

    As yet, they haven’t brought any young to feed but I live in hope. However, I wonder sometimes whether they have any young at all given that they spend most of the day in my garden rather than in the nest.

  7. Avatar

    This thread is pretty old now but I hope someone advises me. I have two seagulls, Beryll and Bob. They’ve been together and coming to me for about 7 years. This time of year they drive me insane with their incessant begging. It’s that sound that is like a whiney mewing . On and on and on until I feed them. But the more I feed them at this time of year, the more they beg and mew. I feed them. The fly up to chicks, feed them. Come back and repeat. Every year at this time I almost lose my mind.

  8. Avatar

    I have a pet seagull who i call Steven he comes to me all the time and like Homer he knocks on my window and my door and pops his head round my door if its open and lets me know he is there bless him and when i go to bed i have a shed which is by my bedroom window so he stays on there all evening and i chat to him every now and then i think he likes it also if I’m in the garden he will sit beside me while i read my book its so sweet , i feed him the dried cat food bites in salmon he loves them also leftovers . He knows my car too as soon as he sees it he flies down when i get out and follows me down the path and he definitely doesn’t like other gulls coming into the garden only his mate Stephanie ! I know people don’t like them but i think its cute and he is so tame he isn’t a pest at all he doesn’t get me up early or the neighbours so i shall continue to feed him and hope he doesn’t get run over ,he has been with me for 4 years now and i would miss him .

  9. Avatar

    People always say the seagulls were here first please show me the cliffs they lived on, they live on human built cliffs ie houses. They are not tame & shouldn’t be encouraged, it’s usually by townies who have moved from inland to the coast, if they weren’t fed they would go foraging & it would be better for them & the neighbours of the people who feed them. They usually lighten their load as they take off all over neighbours houses & cars. If they are not fed they become aggressive.

  10. Avatar

    We have a gull, Sid. He dose not get food only water, talked to and human contact. He will steal food given half a chance but this is very rare. He will come indoors but gets chased out, his main aim is to sit at the window and watch us for hours until it gets dark or he falls asleep. He has gone away for two or three weeks but returns. Is this normal ? he is about five years old . He is sitting watching me type this intently.
    Rhett

  11. Avatar

    What a lovely story about Homer and his family, and all the other heartwarming tales. My gull has a broken or very bad foot and I called him Jonathan, after the half short story Jonathan Livingston Seagull, I gave him a few antibiotics for his foot. I treat him once, ok, maybe twice a day, but so I’m not his sole food provider, more a supplement. Such characters and nice to know about Homer, his friends and all you out there.

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