Administrators at an Oakland school called police after an injured sea gull’s efforts to get chummy with school kids wore out its welcome on the playground.

Atwood Elementary School Principal Jenny McGee said the school’s efforts to be an inviting place may have been a little too successful.

“The sea gull was interfering with the welcoming atmosphere of the school,” she said.

She said the gull, which is injured and possibly has a piece of metal lodged in its leg, cannot fly for long distances.

It first showed up a few weeks ago and has been a daily presence since.

While the bird has been a delight for the children, school staff have been forced to clean its copious mess from walkways on a daily basis.

McGee said she and teachers try to clear the bird away each morning by flapping their arms at it and telling it to shoo, but the bird has persisted, possibly in the hopes of sharing the children’s snacks.

Police said they received a call that the bird was behaving aggressively.

“Initial reports came in that the sea gull was chasing the kids,” Oakland police Captain Rick Stubbert said. “Upon further investigation, it was found that actually, it was the kids chasing the sea gull.”

Stubbert said the bird had been visiting a nearby bird feeder and that the animal control officer tried unsuccessfully to corner the gull, which is still healthy enough to fly short distances.

Oakland police School Resource Officer Todd Burbank consulted with the Maine Warden Service about a possible forcible removal.

The eventual verdict: Leave the bird alone.

“He’s eating birdseed, playing with the kids and loving life at the Atwood school,” Stubbert said.

McGee said the experience is a sign of the quality of life in rural Maine.

“It shows that we still live in an area where schools are safe, when a police officer has time to come check on our sea gull.”

McGee said that, with the school year about to end, she hoped the bird would take the summer off from the school’s property.

“Maybe he’ll find kids on a beach to hang out with,” she said.

This isn’t the first time an avian annoyance has surfaced at the school this year.

“These things come in threes,” said McGee.

In February, a massive group of crows, estimated at between 500 and 1,000 birds, took to lingering around the school’s playground, necessitating daily warnings to the children about avoiding their droppings.

Last week, a sparrow caused a stir when it flew into the school’s gymnasium. Two students used their iPads to find sparrow songs on the Internet and played them to lure the sparrow to the gym door, facilitating its escape.

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling — 861-9287

[email protected]

Twitter: @hh_matt


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