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Ring-billed Gull

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Ring-billed Gulls are among the most common on the coast, found not only by the shore but in inland parks, farms, lakes, parking lots and landfills.

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LARUS DELAWARENSIS
• Length: 17.5 inches
• Wingspan: 48 inches
• Season: Winter
More about Ring-billed Gulls.
Where they are, and when.
In their first winter, they have a brown pattern on their overwing, dark wingtips and a pale body. They take three years to reach adulthood, when they have a mostly white head, blue-gray back, yellow legs and a black band near the tip of their bill.

Ring-billed Gulls have become comfortable around people, frequenting restaurant parking lots and garbage dumps, as well as their more natural habitat along beaches and fields. They can hover almost at a standstill, prepared to take food tossed into the air. In some ways they are the goats of the air, thriving on almost anything from fish and insects to french fries.

Ring-billed Gulls winter in the southern United States and Gulf Coast as far south as Mexico. In summer, they typically return to the same breeding location in the far north where they nest in colonies in the hundreds and thousands.

 

April 19, 2008

A Ring-billed Gull scoured the beach this morning at Galveston Island State Park, sifting through the rubble just past the water line. It was in its second year – white on the bottom but still mottled on the top. Seizing a small clam in its beak, it flew up about 20 feet, hovered, and let it drop. After inspecting the results, it took it up in its beak again, this time to perhaps 40 feet, stopped, and let it fall. The fall cracked the shell and the gull stood above it on the sand picking out a soft breakfast.

About Scott Clark

I’m a digital journalist who’s worked as a photographer, reporter, producer and editor. My interest in the natural history of my surroundings reaches back to my early days beachcombing on the Jersey coast, rowing my boat on a quiet lake in Missouri and, more recently, discovering the mountains and backwoods of Montana, where I was born.

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