This section is from the book "The Balance Of Nature And Modern Conditions Of Cultivation", by George Abbey. Also available from Amazon: The Balance Of Nature And Modern Conditions Of Cultivation.
The gull has a voracious appetite, and is easily tamed. For keeping in captivity it must be procured young, have one wing pinioned, or the feathers of one wing shortened. Pinioning signifies captivity, or flight lost for life; clipping implies temporary or for the time ineffective means for flying, for when the feathers are allowed to grow, the captive may return to the seacoast, where both wings intact are essential for ensuring safety and procuring needful food.
The gull may be kept either solitary or in company. When two gulls are together the weaker generally becomes the victim of the ill-nature of the stronger, and in feeding they display naturally quarrelsome and voracious habits; hence in supplying food this must be so placed that each bird may receive a fair share. The refuse of the scullery - fragments of raw or cooked meat, fish and vegetable substances - should be given at least once a day, preferably in the morning, a vessel being at hand for holding water and replenished as required.
In spring, summer and autumn the gull does well on a lawn, but during winter it must be accorded the shelter of an outhouse in severe weather, supplying food regularly twice a day. If any mice come within sight and reach, they quickly disappear down the gull's throat; it being a "sight" to watch a gull appropriate mice caught in traps, whether dead or alive, as each mouse passes out of sight head foremost.
We have kept gulls on lawns and in pleasure grounds for many years, food and water being supplied beneath or near a sheltering low tree, such as a standard thorn, and without injury to either grass or plants, the enclosure being kept singularly free from ground pests. In such places gulls are useful and to such they must be confined, for when they have run of vegetable quarters they not only devour small mammals, molluscs (slugs), crustaceans (wood-lice), myriapods (millipedes), annelids (worms), and insects-their grubs or larvae, but tear young cabbages, lettuces, etc., into shreds and tatters, being only surpassed in this respect by poultry (with which the gull associates in the farmyard and duck-pond); these, without exception of breed, destroying ground insects most effectually and inflicting most injury on cultivated crops.