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Staring at seagulls could save your food

n this Friday, June 7, 2019, photo provided by Alicia Jessop, a seagull takes a bit of Jessop's lobster roll in York, Maine. Jessop wanted to snap the perfect picture Friday of her lobster roll from Fox’s Lobster House before she took a bite. She says she was focused on framing the sandwich with the picturesque Nubble Lighthouse in the background when she felt something rustle her hand. She quickly realized a seagull had knocked it out of her hand and was already eating it. (Alicia Jessop/@rulingsports via AP)

(CNN) – A new study suggests an eagle eye can help keep seagulls at bay.

Researchers from the University of Exeter in England wanted to know if the birds would be slower to steal food if a human was watching them.

So they put a bag of chips on the ground and waited.

They discovered that on average it took seagulls 21 seconds longer to approach the food if a person was eyeing them.

The scientists also observed that out of the 74 birds they tested, only 27 would come near the food whether they were being watched or not.

They believe the behavior may be explained by differences in the birds’ personalities or positive experiences eating human food in the past.

Whatever the case – it appears a small minority of the seagull population makes the species appear more aggressive in stealing food than the birds actually are.