The Ring-billed gull may be the most common gull in North America.
All in a Name
The species name of the Ring-billed Gull is Larus delawarensis. The species was named by George Ord in 1815.
The Ring-billed Gull as an adult has a white head, white chest, grey wings, yellow legs, and black stripes on the tail. The Ring-billed Gull have pale yellow eyes with a red orbital ring in youth that darkens at maturity. The Ring-billed Gull have a yellow bill with a strong black ring on the bill. The Ring-billed Gull is smaller than the California gull. The Ring-billed Gull is larger than the related Mew Gull. The related Herring Gull is much larger. The Larus delawarensis species is 17 to 21 inches in length with a 41 to 46 inch wingspan. They weigh 11 to 25 ounces. They are roughly the size of a pigeon but with a wider wing span.
The adolescents have mottled grey and brown bodies, a pink bill and pink legs.
Ring-billed Gull birds are well adapted to human habitation. The Ring-billed Gull are found scavenging food in trash dumps, parking lots, beaches, and fields. The Ring-billed Gull will forage while floating on the water and catch food in the air. The Ring-billed Gull eat fish, insects, worms, eggs, rodents, and grain. The Ring-billed Gull sometimes eat vegetation like blueberries, strawberries, and cherries. The Ring-billed Gull will eat French Fries and dragonflies, beetles, and dates. The Ring-billed Gull sometimes steal food from other birds.
The Ring-billed Gull are hunted by dogs, cats, coyotes, raccoons, hawks, eagles, and owls. The Ring-billed Gull used to be hunted by humans for their plumage.
The gull has a mewling call and laughing series that is higher pitched than the related California gull.
The Ring-billed Gull nest inland near fresh water, preferring sparsely vegetated terrain. The Ring-billed Gull will nest on sand bars, beaches, concrete, and soil. The Ring-billed Gull tend to return to the same nesting spot year after year, nesting within a short distance of last year’s nest. Most of the gulls return to the colony where they themselves were hatched. However, the Ring-billed Gull do not mate for life and periodically change mates year to year.
The breeding pair scrape the ground and line it with twigs, grass, and moss. The Ring-billed Gull lay two to four pale olive eggs with brown speckles. Occasional pairs of breeding females join up to raise eggs. In these cases, nests with four to eight eggs are found.
The eggs have a three to four week incubation period. The young fledge in another four to five weeks.
The Ring-billed Gull live by water, but they migrate over a wide range over all of North America. This species is rated as being of least concern by the IUCN.
In the winter, the Ring-billed Gulls are found in northern Mexico and the southern United States as well as along the coast of California. In the summer, the Ring-billed Gulls are found as far north as Manitoba and Prince Edward Island, Canada. Non-breeders are found over-summer along the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.
The Ring-billed Gull is often found alongside the California gull in the western part of its range.
The Ring-billed Gull species sometimes hybridizes with smaller, black-headed species like the laughing gull.
The Ring-billed Gull eat so much garbage that gull populations have dropped when dumps switched from open dumping to trash incineration.