Ty Menchions has to sneak out of his St. John's home these days, thanks to some aggressive gulls who aren't showing any signs of playing nice on his property.
He was walking home one day at the end of June, near the intersection of Portugal Cove Road and Elizabeth Avenue, when he was first attacked out of the blue.
"A seagull just swooped down off the roof and hit me in the head," he said.
Now, he's looking skyward anytime he leaves his house.
"I've definitely become more cautious and nervous about going outside," he said. "I can't even walk up my own driveway without them squawking at me, swooping down and trying to attack again."
Menchions suspects some seagulls have made a nest on the roof of a nearby building.
He said he has learned to listen for the noises that the gulls make.
"It's kind of like this lower-pitched squawking or honking sound. It's the kind of noise they'll make when they're warning you that they're going to attack" he said.
Even his cat had a close call on Friday afternoon in the backyard.
"I was out there supervising her and a gull swooped right down, just a few feet away, and I saw it defecate. Luckily, it missed the cat," Menchions said with a laugh.
"[I] brought her right back in. Won't be doing that anytime soon again."
Menchions said he contacted the City of St. John's, but they weren't able to help him.
"They directed me over to Environment Canada, who said they've already got several complaints about this area, but they can't do anything about it," he said.
Menchions said he looked online, and found that it could take about five to six weeks for the chicks to grow up and leave the nest.
He figures he has about another month of being fearful of leaving his house.
"[I'm] pretty frustrated. [I] can't get out and enjoy the weather without being nervous about getting attacked by the gulls," he said.
"If nothing can be done right now to resolve the situation, I just hope something is done to prevent it in the future."
Seagulls will pull out all the stops to protect, says biologist
Ian Jones, a seabird biologist at Memorial University, said the birds are acting in defence of a likely nest. They will pull out all the stops to protect their young from potential intruders, a technique called "mobbing" in the field.
"That can include pecking the intruder with their bills, striking the intruder with their feet, possibly defecating or even vomiting on the intruders," he told The St. John's Morning Show. "So we're talking about all forms of defensive action here."
Although Jones said gulls are normally afraid of humans, they can get aggressive if they sense danger to the nest. He said there are probably more instances of potential nests like the one near Elizabeth Avenue, as the environment is well suited for nesting.
"What we've done here in town is we've constructed some suitable nesting habitats for these birds through flat roofs, often with gravel on them," he said. "Predators can't get on the roof, so it's attractive to these birds … we've created the perfect habitat, and now we're seeing the results."
He said businesses that want to have birds removed should contact Environment Canada before trying anything, as seagulls are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. He believes the behaviour should die down in the coming days, as the habituation process could take place.
"Once the gulls discover that passers by aren't really threatening them, they will become less angry and they will habituate to the presence of people and maybe start ignoring them," he said.
"Whether that's going to inure in time to take care of this nuisance, I don't know."