Breeding pairs court in April and commence nest building form early May onwards. In towns the nests tend to be constructed from straw, grass, twigs, paper and any other material the gull can conveniently use. These nests can be large and if they are made of material accumulated over several years, they can become quite heavy. If a breeding site is established, then the gulls will return year after year. Gulls are social creatures and once roof nesting gets a hold, other gulls will start to move in to an area and nest on adjacent buildings, until their numbers build up sufficiently that a colony is established.
In urban areas gulls prefer flat roofs with a little substrate (gravel etc) to nest. The simple nest can be built in a matter of hours. On a modern building, nests will tend to be built behind a parapet wall or where there is protection from the elements often occupying difficult to access locations between chimney pots and tucked away on ledges.
It is important to clear old nests away at the end of the breeding season and it provides an opportunity to repair any damage whilst you are accessing the roof. Your insurance may require you to undertake such regular maintenance work. A little forethought therefore in ‘designing-out’ obvious nesting sites or installing preventative measures can pay significant dividends in later years. The adult courting birds will also seek rooftop vantage points to call. Reducing the ability for the birds to use such vantage points or settle along roof lines will help.
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