Filthy, garbage-eating, run-of-the-mill gulls right? Maybe.
Ring-billed Gulls, like the one above, are responsible for a piece of legislation in Newfoundland. All garbage set out for collection by the garbage truck is to be covered by a net during the summer months. Otherwise, Ring-billed Gulls will converge upon our mountains of refuse and seek out every pizza crust, every bandaid and every bit of cardboard that contains trace amounts of kitchen air.
It's as if they see our wastefulness, judge the things we throw out and then offer us a chance to see our dregs again, ripped from behind their black plastic walls.
They eat garbage, they really do.
They over-populate our city dump with their numbers and reproduce faster than we can expunge them. I know because the expunged gulls come to my lab. We take their carcasses and shake them above the white plastic liner we tape over our dissection bench to jostle the ticks and parasites out of their plumage.
We brush the parasites into a mason jar and walk them down to the entomology lab twenty paces away. Then after removing exorbitant layers of insulation-yellow fat, we withdraw their rustic skeletons--that's a skeleton with stubborn bits of muscle still attached--and submerge them into fish tanks full of dermestid beetles.
The beetles clean the bones. They crawl up inside the skulls of the birds and eat the grey matter. They consume everything we cannot see.
And then we store these meticulously labeled skeletons in museum archives until some poor student comes around to measure them and draw conclusions from the numbers and attempt to publish a manuscript or two.
I'd love to bring this around the corner and morally upload it for you. As a comparison between what the gull does and what we, as humans, take from it in an analogical way. Maybe I would say something like: "We fuel their miraculous adaptation ability by providing them with endless amounts of trash." And then I would mimic my opening line with: "Corrupt, wasteful, insatiable humans right? Maybe."
But here's all I really want to say. Some species are meant to be rare. Some species are meant to exist in great numbers. An ecological balance must be struck one way or another. We absolutely do have an effect on the species that go extinct and the ones that procreate out of control. We are infinitely tied to those we share the earth with. Draw as many conclusions from that as you would like (especially in the comments).