Seagull Feeding

The original question was:

Both Maoris and Europeans brought new types of food to NZ, yet the native birds seemed to find no problem eating our food scraps immediately. Can you explain this to me? Is it an example of evolution?

Answer by John Mackay

Birds native or otherwise along with most land dwelling vertebrate creatures need protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals to survive, and since they never go to food school, their ability to recognise sources of these is provably an innate skill. Especially in many birds which are hatched in the absence of parents in the wild, such as the Aussie Scrub Turkey. Add to that the observations made around the world that most creatures have the ability to eat whatever is available, even when their environment changes and they can’t get what they want or have relied upon in a past.

When the environmental change is the coming of a new group of humans or the growth of a city, any creature that can’t recognise and survive on new types of food is rapidly eliminated by the advance of civilization. However, some creatures soon find a niche in urban environments and eat whatever food they can access. Magpies and seagulls worldwide survive reasonably well on a steady diet of leftovers from fast food outlets, and I have even observed crows at isolated rest stops in snowed over Nevada USA selecting the throwaway burger wrappers with adhering scraps of meat, bun and BBQ sauce as starters, as a winter survival diet, at the same time as they ignore the now ‘iced’ coffee cartons. This is not to say these birds are as healthy as they could be on natural foods. It is also the reason you are discouraged from giving your left over fries to the beach seagulls, who will eat them readily enough all day, but suffer the same ‘supersizing’ problems as we do in consequence.

Birds such as sparrows and pigeons are at the top of the class for their ability to become urbanised, and some New Zealand birds have also been observed to possess this ability. The problem evolutionists need to concede here is that no bird species or individual, has the time to evolve a new food selection skill as it will starve to death well before it achieves this. So it is obvious that birds naturally know what nutrients they need, no matter how they are packaged, whether it be in volumes of vegemite sandwiches downunder, pieces of Pommy pie in the UK, or chucked Kumara chips in Kiwi Land.

From Vegetarian to Carnivores and Cannibals

After being on this planet for many decades, having travelled the globe and gotten close to running out of food on research digs, I know the truth of the mothers saying “If you don’t want to eat it, you can’t really be hungry”. When you are hungry, anything looks good, and sometimes you can even convince yourself it tastes good. Hunger is a powerful driving force in the struggle for life, and can even change your ‘diet classification’. I have grown up keeping chickens, which are normally vegetarian, but I long ago observed they will pursue and eat the mice who consumed the grain you had put out for the resulting hungry chickens. They could do this because they already had sharp beaks and claws even though they did not use them in normal circumstance to catch mice. The history of human warfare and famine,  reveals that humans will even resort to eating vermin, decaying food from rubbish tips  and occasionally other people if they are desperate enough, e.g. in siege situations recorded even in the Bible ( Micah 3:1-4) which also records that man started out as a vegetarian (Gen 1:26-31).


Adaptation is the ability to cope with a changing environment using already built-in abilities. Therefore, each of the above changes in diet may be considered an adaptation, but none of them qualify as evolution.  Each may be an example of survival of the fittest (or fattest for the fast food birds) but there is no evolutionary change. Consider again the fact that any birds or animals that eat human leftovers,  could not survive if their digestive systems did not already have the ability to digest such food, so no new structures or functions are involved nor have any evolved.

Related questions:

MUTUALISM: Rhino birds eats ticks and rhinos benefit. Did God make them for that purpose before the Fall? Answer here.

VEGETARIAN? If Adam ate plants and God called it good, should we only eat plants to please God and stay healthy? Answer here.

KANGAROOS would be called unclean according to Leviticus, so was there only one pair on the Ark? Answer here.

Were you helped by this answer? If so, consider making a donation so we can keep adding more answers. Donate here.

About The Contributor