Can a Crow Kill a Seagull?

Despite having piercing beaks and sturdy builds, seagulls lack threatening sharp talons.

In contrast, crows have average poking bills and relatively dangerous feet.

A typical seagull is about twice the size of a crow which means 

If a single crow fights one-on-one against a seagull, it will be unable to kill it.

But, that’s the catch as crows never take on solo fights. 

If a murder of crows attacks a colony of gulls, then these corvids are highly likely to win and kill off several gulls.  

That said, crows are rarely ever spotted to eat a seagull. 

This may make you wonder…

Why Would a Crow Attack a Seagull?

Perhaps, because it can.

You see, crows are often crowned as the smartest birds alive.

Yet, they are also considered the avian bullies as they leave no opportunity to harass other animals.

Interestingly, 

Gulls are also infamous for their somewhat pointless mobbing behaviors.

Even so, a smart bird such as a crow should have some reason to fight with seagulls.

However, crow brain nerves are arranged differently from those of humans.

We may be unable to completely comprehend a crow’s intelligence.

Nevertheless, ornithologists suggest the following reasons for a crow to attack a seagull:

1. Reducing Competition

Crows frequently mob out animals to ensure that their territories remain safe.

Also, this lowers inter-species competition for resources.

Since seagulls are notorious for their stealing behaviors. 

Mayhaps, crows are attacking a seagull to remove the competition from their surroundings.

2. Survival Instincts

Since seagulls are larger than crows, they are often mistaken for raptors by other birds. 

Perhaps, crows are attacking seagulls as they perceive them as predators.

It’s more like crows are just taking a precaution thinking, “Better safe than sorry”.

3. Territorial Behavior

Crows are territorial birds that may exhibit their dominance by aggressive displays of mobbing. 

Since seagulls are large-sized birds with webbed feet, they represent a daring but less threatening mobbing opportunity. 

And so, a crow may attack a seagull to show off its agility, or say simply to impress a mate.

Thus,

Perhaps, a crow is attacking a seagull to boast its power and dominance.

4. Protection

Seagulls are opportunistic predators that often steal eggs and nestlings.

In fact, they have been reported to consume pigeons and other birds living in coastal areas. 

Now, crows are intelligent enough to recognize even their fallen fellow.

Also, they tend to deter predators on their first-ever strike. 

This discourages any predator from hunting any further.

So, 

If crows are aggressively attacking seagulls, then they may just be teaching the entire species a lesson to not seek them as prey.

But such attacks are most common during the breeding season. 

If crows are mobbing seagulls during spring, they may be doing so to protect their offspring or mates from getting eaten.

5. Stealing Food

Crows are usually described as opportunistic scavengers.

But instead of waiting for other predators to finish eating, crows have learned the art of decoy plans. 

Usually, one or more crows distract a predator from its meal while other crows steal the food. 

The crows rotate their turns to ensure that all crows get to eat their fill.

So,

Maybe, crows are attacking seagulls just to steal their food.

6.  Bullying And Revenge

Crows have an exceptional memory.

They can even recognize even human faces, especially the ones that cause them harm. 

Furthermore, crows bully anyone that transgresses their territories. 

Perhaps, crows are attacking seagulls only to seek revenge or show their disgust.

But even with all these plausible explanations, it seems odd that crows would go out of their way to bully a coastal bird that they don’t even eat much. 

Besides, seagulls are neither the friendliest birds nor the easiest prey. 

In fact, seagulls frequently harass other animals.

So, you may be wondering:

Do Seagulls Bully Crows?

They most certainly do.

You see, seagulls are relatively large omnivorous birds that often scavenge crabs, fish, and other marine life.

But, they are also notorious for their stealing and mobbing behaviors. 

They can even go as far as defecating on their enemy during a mobbing. 

One can assume that seagulls are like some coastal version of Crows- the Bullies & the Thieves.  

But, the question is: 

“What happens when Crow – the Land Bully meets Seagull – the Coastal Bully?”

I assume they will join feathers to become even bigger bullies if only their interests align.

However, crows and seagulls have contradictory interests.

As:

  1. Seagull and crow diet resembles.
  2. Seagulls can eat crow babies and vice versa.
  3. Both birds are opportunistic foragers.
  4. Both birds bully and display extreme territorial behaviors.

Therefore, crows and seagulls are in a constant struggle of competition, with the only thing keeping them apart is their residence in different regions. 

So, if a crow were to enter coastal lands, it will get bullied by the seagulls.

Similarly, if a seagull happens to enter established crow territories, it is bound to get harassed.

“But which bird bullies more?”

Well, that depends on their relative physical strengths.

Now, an average seagull is about 0.5-1.5 kgs in weight and can grow as tall as 11.5-30 inches with a wingspan of 0.7-1.7m.

While seagulls do have piercing long beaks, however, they lack curved raptor-like feet.

Instead, seagull toes are webbed to that aid them in floating and swimming.

Meanwhile, a typical crow can weigh as much as 0.6 kg and can grow about 17.5 inches tall with a wingspan of 1-1.5m. 

An average seagull is about 1.5-3 times larger than an average crow.

That said, crows too have poking bills.

However, their beaks are not as sharp or strong as those of seagulls.

While crow feet are not webbed, but they are not muscular enough to lift any object or cause deep lacerations. 

Seagull bones are stronger than those of crows (See figure 1).

Can a Crow Kill a Seagull?

Figure 1: Representing a comparison between the features of crows and seagulls.

Since a large size is considered a sign of dominance. 

One can say that:

Seagulls are larger bullies compared to crows.

This also explains why seagulls are far more commonly reported to eat crow babies. 

One such heart-wrenching incident was captured in 2019 by Andrew Heppleston in Chandler’s Ford, Hampshire 

The crows were mobbing the seagull in attempts to save their baby in its beak, but they stopped as the baby died during this struggle.

In this case, you must be on the side of crows.

But I should still tell you that:

If crows could eat seagull babies the same way, they will do so without any remorse. 

But even with this notion, most birders side with crows almost all the time. 

It may be that seagulls make more shrilling sounds and seem to murder other birds far too often.

One time, I saw a group of birders describe seagulls as flashy wide-boys that randomly visit land pubs after pillaging and looting through seas.

Their analogy for crows was “Devious Sheriffs” that keep these criminals in check.

I kinda agree with their description.

But, crows are not the kindest of birds. In fact,

Crows are like those knights without honor as they mostly target the weak, especially injured and young birds.

Do Crows Attack Injured Birds?

They most definitely do.

In fact, crows have been reported to even attack the injured birds of their own kind. 

Why?

Well, nobody can say for sure.

Although ornithologists suggest the following reasons:

1. Crows Attacking the Injured Crows

This may involve:

a. Competition for Resources

The wild represents an endless battle for survival. 

Though crows tend to live and forage as coherent families, however, if it’s an extremely harsh season, then crows too follow the rule of “Live together, die alone”. 

A crow may attack its injured fellows to remove competition for the given resources. 

b. Breeding Behaviors

Among birds, aggressive mates are often preferred. 

Male crows experience a surge in testosterone levels during the breeding season.

This makes them aggressive and somewhat irrational.

And so, 

Such a crow may strike down and injure a fellow crow to seek a potential mate.

c. Reducing Predation

Predators especially young raptors gain the confidence in taking more lives with each successful hunt.

Since injured crows may attract several kinds of predators. 

This means,

Healthy crows often kill their injured fellows to increase survival odds for the entire crow family.

d. Quarantine

A wild injured bird is unlikely to receive any penicillin.

Therefore, bird wounds are often infested with disease and pus.

To avoid the spread of diseases, these injured birds often leave the tribe.

However, if such a bird does not leave it may be harmful to the whole flock. 

Crows may kill off any injured fellow showing hints of strange behaviors. 

This helps birds survive longer.

e. Strangers

A murder of crows typically consists of hundreds or sometimes, even thousands of birds. However, the crows seem to have a territory-based tribal system. And so,

If a crow from another family transgresses its territory and seeks mates, then crows attack to either injure or sometimes even kill that crow.

Related article – Do crows eat crows 

2. Crows Attacking Injured Birds From Other Species

This may involve:

a. Dominance

Crows are extremely territorial yet clever birds.

They may strike another injured bird, especially raptors to display their dominance. 

Related articles

Why do crows attack eagles?

Why do crows attack hawks?

b. Meal

Crows are omnivorous creatures that can eat almost everything.

However, fresh meat is always a delicacy which is why crows may strike down any injured bird to devour its flesh.

c. Revenge

Crows leave no opportunity to mock their enemies.

They may mob down an injured owl or eagle just to show their disgust. 

Obviously, a crow will eat an injured seagull 

Still, seagulls are more like crows’ competitors.

So, you may be thinking:

What Are The Predators Of Seagulls?

Since seagulls hunt both in water and on land, they have a strange assortment of predators.

These include:

Predator Details Remarks
Sharks Typically happens when a seagull is floating on water from the deep ocean while a shark is looking for prey above. Most common seagull predators.
Eagles Occurs when an eagle finds a nesting seagull on some rocky cliff. Typically seeks only a solo seagull.
Foxes Typically happens when a colony of seagulls does not even recognize a fox as a predator and acts carelessly. Rarely happens.
Falcons Occurs when a falcon migrates around coastlines. Falcons can capture gulls midair.
Hawks Happens when a hawk starts nesting near coastal areas. Hawks target solo seagulls sitting on cliff edges.
Weasels Whenever a weasel ends up near a colony of seagulls, it steals eggs and eats several birds.  Second most common seagull predator.
Octopuses Happens when a seagull takes no precaution while dealing with an octopus. Rarely reported.
Tuna Only happens when a seagull tries to eat tuna bait mid-sea. Rarely observed.
Domesticated Pets Cats and dogs may kill a seagull but are unlikely to eat any. Rarely reported.

Wrapping Up 

A single crow is unlikely to kill a healthy seagull although it can devour seagull babies or injured seagulls.

A murder of crows can beat a colony of seagulls.

Crows are neither the main nor the only predators of seagulls.

In fact, they are more like competitors and often show their distaste by mobbing each other whenever they can. 

Here’s some other related articles about crows which I think you’ll find interesting so do check them out!

Do crows attack humans?

Do crows attack dogs?