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Bird brained? Gull scores a ride to organic composting facility. Twice.

Bird brained? Gull scores a ride to organic composting facility. Twice.

Clearly this bird was using its head.

About three weeks ago, an ingenious gull hitched a ride on a Recology truck to a composting facility in California's Bay Area, returning to Farallon Islands Refuge the next day. How do we know? A GPS tracking device clearly shows it crossed the Bay Bridge, and then headed east on Interstates 980 and 580.


No bird brains here

Western Gull

photo by Pete Myers

I'm a great fan and admirer of scientists (Carl Safina in Beyond Words) and writers (Jennifer Ackerman in The Genius of Birds) who document there's a lot more going on in animal brains than traditional animal behavior scientists imagined.

Not only did they not imagine… they often derided the possibility.

But even Safina and Ackerman didn't imagine the antics of this garbage-truck riding Western Gull hitching a ride to an organic composting center before returning to its nest on the Farallon Islands west of San Francisco Bay.

Spotted by a wildlife researcher

Kudos to researcher Scott Shaffer from San Jose State University, who has been tracking Western gulls breeding on Farallon Islands Refuge to see where they feed.

From the San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Facebook page:

Gulls were tagged using GPS data loggers. To everyone's amazement, one ingenious gull must have hitched a ride on a Recology truck to a composting facility in Vernalis, CA.

The Facebook video showing the gull's route is a worthy distraction.

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