A little while ago we visited the beach with two of my sisters and brother-in-laws. While we sat under an umbrella admiring the waves, a large seagull landed nearby, inspecting us carefully. With eight kids running around, the ground was littered with a collection of cheez-its, fruit-loops and granola bars.
Satisfied that he had parked himself in a prime location and was first in line for when we left, he started preening his feathers. "Hey, Ash, go chase the seagull," I told her. She was more interested in sucking down a fruit juice and refused.
I moved on to various other children, all of whom indicated that their snacks, shade, or sand activities were all of more interested, helped by the fact that the seagull was as large as most of them. Finally, one small niece agreed to chase the seagull, under full assurances that the bird would immediately fly away as soon as she was near. She dug herself a starting block in the sand and took off running.
To her (and the adults') surprise, she arrived at the seagull without it flapping off. It had been momentarily distracted by a itch and its head was buried under a wing. The niece stood there a little confusedly, two feet from the bird, unsure what her next move was.
The bird finally looked back up, satisfied that the itch had been vanquished. It took a moment to register that there was a small child two feet away, then the seagull exploded in a feathery ball of squawking and flapping that seemed to levitate off the ground before shooting off over the sand.
Something tells me that the seagull will keep a weather eye out next time it scratches and itch, and my niece didn't show much inclinations to chase seagulls after that.