"Drunk" Seagulls Meet Tragic Fate
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A heatwave has been especially devastating for seagulls in southern England, who are being killed by cars after getting "drunk" on flying ants. In Devonshire, nature experts report that the birds gorge themselves on a surge of ants, who have surfaced due to the unusual heat. The ants secrete formic acid which has intoxicating effects for the gulls. “That isn't so good for the birds—it could leave them a bit drunk,” says entomologist Dr. Rebecca Nesbit, explaining that enough formic acid can “stupefy” the birds to the point they ignore oncoming cars. “As I started driving up the hill, the seagulls were all over the place, pecking in the road,” she says. “It reminded me of Alfred Hitchcock's [film] The Birds because there were so many of them—I've never seen it before. They're in the road and they just don't want to move.” At least four cities in the area are reportedly littered with the bodies of seagulls, who get so "drunk" and lethargic, they won't move out of the way for oncoming cars. “Gulls are great opportunists," says Tony Whitehead of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, "if there's an abundance of ants and insects, they'll just get stuck in and will be so focused on eating, they won't move for the cars."