A BIRD lover has taught a baby seagull how to talk – by accident

Julia Gould, 56, and her husband Ian, 57, look after hundreds of rescued baby seagulls each year in their back garden in Hailsham.

A one month-old chick called Prince has suffered a series of injuries since birth and has had to spend a lengthy time in Julia’s bird hospital.

And Julia says he has now learnt to talk – or, rather, to say “hello”.

She said it was “amazing given he’s suffered a bad throat and sounds very croaky”.

She said: “I am not sure if Prince is a he or she, it’s hard to tell, but he’s a special needs seagull and very special.

“He’s spent a lot of time in contact with me and they get very attached.

“When you go to the hospital you end up chatting to the birds and he’s started talking.

“I think because he’s been there for so long.”

Julia welcomes many birds but this time of year there are always a lot of baby seagulls.

Last year she rescued up to 400 chicks which Julia assured were all named and carefully looked after.

She said: “It’s my passion. I just can’t say no. No one in this organisation gets paid. It’s just all for the birds, we have no funding but we do what we do.

“It would be nice to get a bit more help so we can do more.”

Julia believes the sanctuary she founded with her husband, Bird Aid, is one of the few where “there’s always room at the inn”.

She said: “We never turn them away. We have quite a few coming up from Brighton at the moment. It’s very hard work – it can be 7am until an 11pm.”

Julia said the main reason why she has so many chicks at this time of year is down to gulls nesting on roofs.

She said: “Seagulls are used to nesting on cliff tops, where there’s space for the chicks to have a wander.

“The huge issue we have at the moment is seagulls nesting high up on roof tops, the little ones waddling close to the edge and dropping off.”

She said if members of the public come across a young seagull with developed feathers and its wing tips crossed at the back then it’s best to leave them.

But if it’s still fluffy and very young then she advises taking it to a rescue centre.

She said: “Ideally they just go back on to the roof, but if it’s clearly fallen and injured then it’s best to find it some proper care.”

Julia has one week left of her crowdfunding campaign to raise money for the chicks. Visit crowdfunder.co.uk/help-us-save-baby-gulls.