At the beginning of this winter, like every winter, a flock of yellow-legged gulls that have been nesting here for several years arrived in the Zoological Garden. This flock has been studied consecutively since 2010, by Amir Ben Dov. As part of the study, carried out using large leg rings that enable their detection from a distance, Amir is examining incubation and fledgling success.
This year, at the beginning of the breeding season, Dr Ron Elazari-Volcani, the administrative director of the Garden, noticed that the gulls were attacking one of the pelicans whenever it approached the nesting area. One day Ron saw that one of the nests had been robbed – of the four eggs that had been laid, only one remained, and that was broken. We are aware that in the last few years the survival rate of the gulls' chicks has been lower than expected, in comparison to other nesting sites in Israel, but our suspicion always fell on the crows. This year it became clear that pelican bills – at least one specific bill – are to blame. On the 9th of May, the animal keeper Jacob Zlait caught the pelican in the act, with a gull chick in its bill. Jacob rescued the chick and the pelican was caught and "detained" in the cormorants' cage. It will be released back to the main grass only after the gulls' breeding season is over.