Ring-Billed Gulls are flocking birds. They can readily be seen along rivers,
lakes, farm land and
unfortunately fast food restaurants. There is an island on Lake Ontario that
can hold as many as 85,000 pairs during breeding season.
Although it is considered a typical large white-headed
gull, the Ring-billed Gull has been known to hybridize only with smaller,
black-headed species, such as Franklin's, Black-headed, and Laughing gulls.
Many, if not most, Ring-billed Gulls return to breed at
the colony where they hatched. Once they have bred, they are likely to
return to the same breeding spot each year, often nesting within a few
meters of the last year's nest site. Many individuals return to the same
wintering sites each winter too.
In the late 19th century, this bird was hunted for its
plumage. Its population has since rebounded and it is probably the most
common gull in North America. In some areas, it is displacing less
aggressive birds such as the Common Tern.
As mentioned, these birds nest in colonies. A nest is
made from a scrape in the ground and filled with twigs and sticks. The
female lays 14 buff/olive eggs with dark brown speckles. Both the male and
the female incubate the eggs. Incubation is about 28 days. The chicks are
hatched covered in down. They fledge in about 30 days.
The Ring-billed Gull is a medium sized gull that is approximately 1621
long with a wingspan of between 41*46. They weigh between 10 25 oz. ( Ύ
1 ½ lbs.). It has a short, bright yellow bill with a black ring at the
tip. Wingtips black with white spots. It has white head, neck, chest and
under-parts and a soft gray back and upper wings and the legs are yellow.
Young birds are mottled brown with blackish tail band and flesh colored
Found around fresh water, landfills, golf courses, farm fields, shopping
areas, and coastal beaches and water ways.
Depending on time of year, these birds can be found on either coast, on
inland water ways from Alaska to Labrador into the Great Lakes, south to the
Gulf of Mexico.
For spring and breeding season Ring-Billed Gulls migrate north to Alaska to
Labrador down to New England into the Great Lakes. They are migratory and
most move south to the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of
North America, the Great Lakes and Cuba.
Ring-Billed Gull is an omnivore that eats insects, seeds, grain, fish,
mollusks, rodents and garbage. These birds are opportunistic and have
adapted well to taking food discarded or even left unattended by people.
Audubon Society Field Guide to North American