Speed Reading — Seagulls - Level 5 — 200 wpm

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Researchers have a useful tactic to deter seagulls from stealing your picnic sandwiches or fries - to stare at the birds to prevent any food theft. This valuable tip comes from the University of Exeter in the UK. Researchers tested the effects of staring at the sea birds. They put some fries on the ground and checked how long it took gulls to snatch the fries without a researcher looking at them. They then did the same test, but with a researcher making eye contact. The birds took an extra 21 seconds to approach the food when a researcher stared at them.

The researchers concluded that the human gaze deterred the gulls. Only 26 per cent of the birds tried to take the food with the eye contact. Three-quarters of the birds stood still and looked at the food or flew away. A researcher said: "Gulls seemed to have a bad reputation for food-snatching, but I saw it happen quite rarely. When I did see it...gulls often swooped in from behind and people were completely oblivious. Gulls are often seen as aggressive and willing to take food from humans, so it was interesting to find that most wouldn't even come near during our tests."

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