Some sicko decided to capture a laughing gull and spray-paint the bird orange. I’m guessing the bird was grabbed by luring it with food – gulls can be a bit of a nuisance at outdoor restaurants and on the beach, which is only one reason people are encouraged NOT to feed the birds. The paint looks a lot like the orange spray paint used by road and construction workers. Maybe this gull snatched one lunchtime sandwich too many…
Researchers may occasionally use paint to mark certain species of birds for study, but never more than a few primary wing feathers or small spot on the tail. Body feathers, so critical for keeping a bird warm, cool, and dry, are never marked, and certainly not to this extent. This was clearly someone’s idea of a joke.
I wonder if the person who did this was thinking “Oh, the paint will wash off – no harm done.” Well, let me re-phrase that – the person who did this obviously wasn’t thinking at all. Harm was certainly done. This bird will need to stay in captivity until it molts a new set of body feathers; the paint cannot be safely removed without further damaging the delicate plumage.
Without care, this bird most likely would have died from exposure, as the feathers stiff and clogged with paint cannot protect against temperature and weather. At least now the bird has a chance for a full recovery. It could have been so much worse. I’m not laughing either.