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How Do Seagulls Know When A Baseball Game Is Over?

Photo via mryosemite on Flickr.com

Welcome to our weekly 'Ask a Vet from the SF SPCA'  feature on 7x7.com. They've enlisted their Co-President, Dr. Jennifer Scarlett, to answer your questions every week. Got a question for Dr. Scarlett? Ask away in the comments!

Giants' opening day is coming up on March 31st in LA, with their first home game on April 8th. That's why the SF SPCA turns its lens on seagulls, AT&T Park's resident wildlife, for this week's Ask A Vet.

Q: How do seagulls know when a baseball game is almost over? It seems like they show up in the seventh inning of every home game!

A: This question was asked as a lark (laugh here) but it was so fascinating, Dr. Scarlett couldn’t help but pursue the answer. Consulting with Marian Dawkins, Department of Zoology at Oxford, the conclusion is that the 7th inning stretch is what cues the gulls to prepare for a feast.  The commotion of 40,000 people simultaneously standing and singing is the tip off. Gulls are very good at recognizing predictors for when food is going to become available. They have learned that the 7th inning stretch means that people will soon be clearing out of the stadium, leaving behind a plethora of half eaten, (and luckily in our ballpark) gourmet food.  Dawkins suggests that the field itself becomes a buffet – the players cleats have spent the past few hours churning up the soil, exposing delectable insects.  I’m sure we are all happy to leave that particular delicacy to the gulls. We will stick with the Cha-Cha bowls and Crazy Crab sandwiches!

While we can’t answer all of the questions here, please feel free to ask us during our Friday Twitter Ask the Vet Chat.  If your animal’s problem is of an immediate nature, please call your vet or you can reach the SF SPCA at 415-554-3030 to make an appointment.