Skip to main content

One constant when you visit the seashore, it seems, is the presence of gulls. Whether raucously screaming or just sitting quietly, these scavengers of the sea are ever with us. At first glance, all gulls seem to be the same, apart from the difference in size between species, and the subtle varieties of leg and bill colour, eye ring, and some changes in plumage (which seems to have a standard mix of black, white and grey). Indeed, given the fact that the ‘standard’ plumage of several of the immature common gull species seems to be ‘white with brown streaks and dots’, identification at a distance can be a problem.

This is where behaviour and location come into to play. The Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis) shown here at Fall River, Massachusetts, is close to a parking lot, and a café. This gull (like most others) is an omnivore, and a very opportunistic feeder; it will feed on shellfish, worms, and almost any type of refuse, if it can; it is sometimes called the ‘fast food gull’ because of its tendency to hang out near fast food outlets! The dark ‘ring’ around the beak (which is yellow) is its most note-worthy identification feature, although the attractive red outline to eye and gape is seen in close-up, along with the black upper tail coverts and black and white primaries.

Ring-billed Gulls nest in colonies and the adults return each year to the same area, often nesting within a few feet of their previous nest. They are migratory, moving to the coasts, or down the coasts in a southerly direction with the onset of winter. They are not confined to the USA, Canada, Mexico and Central America, however, as small colonies have established themselves in Ireland and Great Britain. This may be due to the fact that they can soar, as well as flap their wings to remain in flight, perhaps leading to their being carried eastward across the Atlantic Ocean on strong equinoctial gales.

Like the Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus, sometimes, Larus ridibundus) in Europe, many of these gulls will never see salt water! They are quite at home on lakes and rivers, being able to exploit diverse food sources wherever they find them (there’s always a burger joint around the corner, right?) The millinery trade in the 19th century was nearly responsible for their demise in large parts of their range (their plumage was extensively used in hats of the period), but fortunately they have rebounded, and  you can see  many a ‘squabble’ or ‘flotilla’ of these handsome birds along many waterways. After all, you may be looking at the next Jonathan Livingston Seagull !

http://peoplesmosquito.org.uk

http://shortfinals.wordpress.com

Originally posted to shortfinals on Thu Apr 04, 2013 at 08:18 PM PDT.

Also republished by Birds and Birdwatching and SciTech.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site