Ring-billed Gull

Larus delawarensis

 

Copyright, Douglas Triggs

Ring-billed Gulls are the most common gulls seen in Northern Virginia, and are most often seen in the winter.

Adult Ring-billed Gulls grow to about 20 inches long. They have a silvery-gray back, with a white head, belly, and tail. The tips of their wings are black. Feet and legs are yellow.

Immature (young) gulls look quite different. They are brownish-white and have pink legs.

Adults and young all have a black ring around their bills.

Copyright, Robert Benson, Center for Bioacoustics, Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi

Copyright, Peter Wallack

When winter comes to our area, Ring-billed Gulls gather in large groups on rivers, lakes, ponds, and marshes. They also gather at dumps, landfills, and parking lots.

Ring-billed Gulls are very alert and are always on the lookout for food. When food is found by one gull, others quickly approach. Ring-billed Gulls have a loud, raucous cry and often fuss at each other.

Gulls also compete for food with other scavengers, including crows, eagles, and starlings.

Ring-billed Gulls eat a wide variety of foods, including: fish, snails, mussels, earthworms, beetles, grasshoppers, crickets, other insects, amphibians, small rodents, ducklings, and bird eggs. These gulls also eat a lot of human foods thrown out as garbage, especially breads. Ring-billed Gulls will occasionally eat roadkill.

Copyright, Stephen J. Davies

Copyright, Peter Wallack

Outside of winter, Ring-billed Gulls migrate to nesting areas, especially further north. Nesting usually occurs in large colonies on islands of lakes and rivers. Frequently, they share nesting grounds with other species of gulls and terns.

When the weather gets cold in the fall, Ring-billed Gulls move from their breeding areas to places not far from the coast or inland waters.

USFWS Photo by Jim Rorabaugh

Copyright, Missouri Conservation Commission

Ring-billed Gulls often associate with other species of gulls, ducks, and cormorants. By forming mixed flocks, birds help each other stay alert for dangers. They may compete with these birds as well.

Ring-billed Gulls are strong fliers and swimmers. They are often seen riding thermals (wind gusts) high above the ground. Some foods, like snails and mussels, are dropped onto rocks in order to crack their hard shells.

Predators of Ring-billed Gulls include Herring Gull, Red Fox, Raccoon, Great Horned Owl, dogs, American Crow, rats, Coyote, and Striped Skunk.

Additional Media

Description
Type
Credit

Ring-billed Gull Call

Sound
Naturesongs.com

Ring-billed Gull On Beach

Video
John R. Sauer

Relationships in Nature:

FOOD/PREY
PREDATORS
SHELTER
OTHER

Black Crappie

Red Fox

Bald Eagle EC

Yellow Perch

Raccoon

American Crow EC

Common Carp

Striped Skunk

European Starling EC

Creek Chub

Great Horned Owl

Double-crested Cormorant Mu

Bluegill

Norway Rat

Mallard Mu

Largemouth Bass

Coyote

Canada Goose Mu

American Eel

Domestic Dog

Double-crested Cormorant Mu

Earthworm

Herring Gull

Meadow Vole

American Crow

Least Shrew

Differential Grasshopper

Stagnant Pond Snail

Eastern Lamp Mussel

Leopard Slug

Bullfrog

Eastern Newt

Southern Leopard Frog

Field Cricket

Mallard

Bald Eagle

Relationship to Humans:

Some people consider Ring-billed Gulls to be annoying. They can be loud when in large groups, and they may poop on cars and buildings. Ring-billed Gulls are extremely helpful, however, since they clean up a lot of human garbage.

SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION

KINGDOM
Animal
PHYLUM
Chordate
CLASS
Bird
ORDER
Charadriiformes
FAMILY
Laridae
GENUS
Larus
SPECIES
Larus delawarensis

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