Some people prefer dogs for pets. Part-time Beach resident Lynn Tindell likes a certain seagull, which appears to display loyalty to his everyday routine.
For 10-plus years that the Tindells have stayed at Estero Beach Club over a 4-1/2 month period, Lynn makes his way down to the beachfront with his beach chair to enjoy the Southwest Florida sun and weather. Like most sunbathing retirees, Tindell, age 73, will take an occasional walk or go for a swim when he is not seated.
During the past three or four years, Tindell has noticed a particular seagull showing an interest in him by waiting for his arrival through the condominium gate to the beachfront and following him to the water's edge when he decides to go for a swim. Though he admits the relationship is food-driven, Tindell appears to enjoy his fine-feathered companion that he calls "George."
'George” the seagull takes a peanut right out of the hands of Beach resident Lynn Tindell. The seagull appears to trust Tindell well enough.
"Sometimes when I come through the gate, he'll come up to meet me and walk down with me," he said. "A seagull's natural instinct is to stay away, but I've had him actually sit right beside me and wait for me to feed him. If he's not right next to me, I'll shake the bag and he'll come right over. He'll eat right out of my hand most of the time."
On cue, Tindell shakes a bag of peanuts and George walks over to get a treat. The other seagulls stay away for the most part in respect of a territorial issue.
The former banker, who was stricken with polio as a child when he grew up in Philadelphia, can tell George apart from the assorted seagulls by the look of him. George has a barrel chest and somewhat distinct markings. Males are supposedly bigger than the female species, which possess a grayish color head and are not as dominant in nature.
"He'll tolerate females but he won't tolerate males around here," said Tindell, who didn't notice George was following him until someone pointed it out. "I think it's food that motivates him."
George used to like pretzels, but now prefers peanuts. He will not touch a pretzel if he knows peanuts are in the same bag.
"He's been really spoiled," said Tindell.
Patty Tubbs, another Estero Beach Club, finds it fascinating how George has taken to Tindell.
"I've never seen anything like it. He waits for him, then leaves when he leaves," she said. "It happens every day."
When it is time for the Tindells to head north to spend the rest of the year on another barrier island in Ocean City, N.J., there is wonderment involved if George will be here at their return arrival on Fort Myers Beach.
"You never know if it's him when you come back every year," said Lynn. "But, when I sit down and he eats out of my hand, you kind of hope it is. It's not spectacular, but it's kind of cool for a wild bird to do that."