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Gulls are medium-sized to large, long-winged, conspicuous birds that often occur in large flocks. They are mostly white with grey or black back and wings but immature birds are mottled brown and only gradually acquire adult plumage. Gulls fly with relatively slow wing beats and frequently glide or soar on motionless wings. Five species regularly occur in the United Kingdom.
The main problems with gulls, particularly in towns, are associated with the roof nesting Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls. There are also occasional instances of Great Black-backed Gulls, Common Gulls, Kittiwakes and Fulmurs nesting on roofs, though the latter three species are not on the governments' general licence, and are therefore protected. The gulls pecking at the roofs can damage the fabric of buildings. Nest debris and droppings sometimes block gutters and drains.
Gulls droppings can also be a problem when they land on people, cars, drying washing, and gardens. In addition to their nuisance value, the acidic nature of the droppings can cause damage through their chemical action.
Whilst gulls are establishing and maintaining a breeding territory they can be very noisy, often early in the mornings. Although the noise isn't confined to the breeding season, it is often during this period of intense activity that most complaints will be received. Gulls, especially if they have dependant young, can also threaten or attack people. If gull chicks fall off the nest site, the adults can become aggressive towards people in areas where they have previously been passive.
Gulls habit of feeding at refuse tips and roosting on and subsequent pollution of reservoirs also causes concern. They have been implicated in the transmission of botulism and Salmonella spp.
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