What (essential) function does the red spot on the beak of gulls occupy?

The small red spot that stands out on the yellow beak of gulls has a real function in the animal. Which ? This is the not so dumb question of the day! (©AdobeStock)

If you have ever tried to feed gulls (or chasing one of them who came too dangerously close to the ice cream or the sandwich you were enjoying quietly on the beach), you have probably already spotted it. She ? That little red spot which denotes on the yellow beak of these birds. What you may not know, is that it has a real function.

A food dispenser

“It serves as a food distributor for the chicks, summarizes James Jean-Baptiste, member of the Norman Ornithological Group. The child taps on it to stimulate regurgitation and cause the ingested food to be spit up”. Less appetizing than pretty candy or even a triangle sandwich, it’s a pre-chewed porridge that falls at the behest of baby gulls.

Possessing this primary reflex from birth, the chicks could not eat without this instinctive system. “If the red spot is not visible, the chicks are not fed, specifies the ornithologist. Conversely, if you put a red spot on another bird’s beak, the chicks will come and slap it. »

A technique that only lasts about the first 15 days of the life of the little gulls, “when they are still attached to the nest, before being able to run towards the adult who spits it out directly”.

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