Daily BulletinHoliday Centre

The Conversation

  • Written by Grainne Cleary, Researcher, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Deakin University

This is an article from Curious Kids, a series for children. The Conversation is asking kids to send in questions they’d like an expert to answer. All questions are welcome – serious, weird or wacky!

Where do seagulls go when they die? You never see dead seagulls on the beach. - Charles, age 8, Mt Kembla, NSW.

This is a great question and you are not alone in wondering where seagulls go when their time is up.

I used to wonder this myself as a kid and thought that since they have wings, they simply fly up to heaven. While that is not the correct answer, it is a lot nicer than the one I am going to give.

As we see so many seagulls flying around, you would think that dead birds would be seen everywhere a lot of the time. Yet as you have observed, this is not the case.

I would say there are a few things happening that stop you from finding many dead gulls.

First of all, a sick gull is not likely to be flying around with a big group. This is because gulls are very competitive and will fight with other gulls – even sick ones. Also, a sick bird is an easy target for other predators. Foxes will hunt them on dry land, raptors will hunt them in the sky, and sharks or other large fish will eat them if they float in the oceans.

Read more: Curious Kids: Do sharks sneeze?

Birds can usually sense when they are not feeling well and like many other creatures, seem to seek out-of-the-way places to be alone. Sick birds will go to ground and because they feel vulnerable, or like they are in danger, they will hide away. They hide in a safe, comfortable and private place – and for a bird, the beach is not safe or private because it’s too out in the open. Sometimes this rest helps them recover, but sometimes not.

When a sick or injured seagull dies while hiding, their body stays hidden. They become easy targets for the many predators that live in the same environment. Attracted by the smell of rotting bodies, scavengers of all kinds (crabs, foxes, even rats) quickly begin eating the dead body, making short work of the bird remains that are easy to digest. While you may find a cluster of feathers here and there, the wind quickly scatters these feathers and the death of a bird is usually not noticed.

Read more: Curious Kids: Do animals sleep like people? Do snails sleep in their shells?

You see, the skeletons of seagulls (and other birds) are so delicate and small that they decay quickly and leave no trace of their bodies. All the body parts of a bird are fairly easy to consume and digest, so not much is left behind. Feathers stick around more easily, showing that a bird has died much more often than bones will.

The earth itself will use elements of the dead bird’s body to help grow nutrients in the soil, which will mean that more plants can grow nearby. The cycle of life continues in this way. Nature wastes nothing.

Hello, curious kids! Have you got a question you’d like an expert to answer? Ask an adult to send your question to us. They can:

* Email your question to curiouskids@theconversation.edu.au * Tell us on Twitter by tagging @ConversationEDU with the hashtag #curiouskids, or * Tell us on Facebook

Curious Kids: Where do seagulls go when they die and why don't we find dead seagulls on the beach? CC BY-ND Please tell us your name, age, and which city you live in. You can send an audio recording of your question too, if you want. Send as many questions as you like! We won’t be able to answer every question but we will do our best.

Authors: Grainne Cleary, Researcher, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Deakin University

Read more http://theconversation.com/curious-kids-where-do-seagulls-go-when-they-die-and-why-dont-we-find-dead-seagulls-on-the-beach-91825

INTERWEBS DIGITAL AGENCY

The Conversation

Politics

Closing the Gap Statement to Parliament

Mr Speaker, when we meet in this place, we are on Ngunnawal country. I give my thanks and pay my respects to our Ngunnawal elders, past, present and importantly emerging for our future. I honour...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Prime Minister Interview with Alan Jones

ALAN JONES: Prime Minister, good morning.    PRIME MINISTER: Good morning, Alan.    JONES: I was just thinking last night when we're going to talk to you today, you must feel as though you've ...

News Company - avatar News Company

Prime Minister Bridget McKenzie press conference

PRIME MINISTER: Good afternoon everybody. The good news is that the Qantas flight is on its way to Wuhan and I want to thank everybody for their cooperation, particularly the Chinese Government as...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Business News

Choosing the Right Coworking Space For Your Business

As the capital of Victoria in Australia, Melbourne is inhabited by millions of people and is known as one of the most liveable cities in the world. The latter is due to the city’s diverse community...

Sarah Williams - avatar Sarah Williams

What Should You Expect from A Carpentry Apprenticeship?

Those wanting to pursue a career in woodwork, whether it be to make furniture, construct buildings or repair existing wooden structures, will have to first commence a carpentry apprenticeship. This ...

News Company - avatar News Company

4 Tips To Choosing A Reliable SEO Company For Your Digital Marketing Agency

Working with a digital marketing agency Perth is the best bet in ensuring that your business is promoted well in the online space. If you are an app developer Perth, you may have to work closely wit...

News Company - avatar News Company

Travel

Travelling With Pets? Here Is What You Should Know

Only a pet parent can understand the dilemma one experiences while planning a vacation. Do you leave your pets at home?  Will you get a pet sitter or someone to take care of them while you are away?...

News Company - avatar News Company

How to Be a Smart Frugal Traveller

You are looking through Instagram, watching story after story of your followers overseas at a beach in Santorini, walking through the piazza in Italy, and eating a baguette in front of the Eiffel ...

News Company - avatar News Company

HOW TO PREPARE FOR YOUR GRADUATION TRIP

Graduation is the stage of life when a student receives the rewards of hard work of years. It must have taken sleepless nights and tiring days to achieve the task. Now, as you have received your cov...

News Company - avatar News Company

ShowPo