The Seacoast Survivor: the Ring-billed Gull


The Ring-billed gull used to be called the Great American gull by John James Audubon (1785-1851) a famous American wildlife artist who attempted to paint and describe all the birds of America. He had thought that the gull was the most abundant one in America. However, the population of the Ring-billed gull has declined since his time. The title of the most plentiful gull in America is now owned by the Herring gull. Despite this, the Ring-billed gull is a still a common bird to find along American coastlines, near lakes, and in parks.

Ring-billed gulls among juvenile Herring gulls. The Herring gulls are larger even as juveniles.

The juvenile Ring-billed gull is mottled brown, having a pattern much like a quail egg shell. They are paler and have a narrow blackish tail band as well. The legs of the adult are yellow, while the juvenile’s are pink. In three years the juvenile turns into an adult, donning white, grey, and black plumage.

The large population of the Ring-billed gull is due to its knack for surviving. It can eat just about anything, live in different conditions, and defend its nesting site vigorously. They migrate and return to their breeding grounds in the North in Spring. They love to eat insects they find on freshly plowed farm fields. Grasshoppers are sought after especially during summer months for their protein. During the winter, they will tend to hang around coasts so that they can forage, since salt water freezes at a lower temperature.With great poise and balance, they are wonderful camera subjects! Just don’t walk too close to them or they will hastily flee, uttering their loud, mewing cry.



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