The Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis) is a medium-sized gull. The genus name is from Latin Larus which appears to have referred to a gull or other large seabird. The specific delawarensis refers to the Delaware River.
Adults are 49 cm (19 in) length and have a 124 cm (49 in) wingspan. The head, neck, and underparts are white; the relatively short bill is yellow with a dark ring; the back and wings are silver gray, and the legs are yellow. The eyes are yellow with red rims. This gull takes three years to reach its breeding plumage; its appearance changes with each fall molt. [Wikipedia]
Familiar acrobats of the air, Ring-billed Gulls nimbly pluck tossed tidbits from on high. Comfortable around humans, they frequent parking lots, garbage dumps, beaches, and fields, sometimes by the hundreds. These are the gulls you’re most likely to see far away from coastal areas—in fact, most Ring-billed Gulls nest in the interior of the continent, near freshwater. A black band encircling the yellow bill helps distinguish adults from other gulls—but look closely, as some other species have black or red spots on the bill. [All About Birds]
Ring-billed Gull Facts [All About Birds]
- 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.
- 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.
- Ring-billed Gull nesting colonies normally include a small percentage of two-female couples. Fertilized by an obliging male, each female spouse lays a clutch of eggs, leading to 5–7-egg “super clutches.”
- The oldest recorded Ring-billed Gull was at least 27 years, 6 months old when it was found in New York.