Seabirds, Pacific Northwest
The Ring Billed Gull is a medium-sized gull, they are quite similar to the Herring Gulls, but are smaller, with a bill that has a black ring around it. They have a white body and tail, along with the gray back and wings, and black wingtips. The juvenile is a mottled brown and pink legs and bill. As the young bird matures, the legs will turn yellow, and the bill will turn yellow and get its namesake ring.
On the coast they can be found in most communities, hanging around parking lots, fast food restaurants or garbage dumps, they also inhabit more natural areas such as coasts and bays. Ring-billed Gulls eat a wide variety of food, including insects, grubs, earthworms, small rodents, fish, and other aquatic organisms. They also will eat garbage and can be seen in the thousands at municipal dumps. You can also see them behind farm equipment looking for insects and small rodents as the farmer turns over the soil.
The Ring Billed Gull nest in mixed colonies with other gulls. Colonies are located on sandy islands with the nests being built on the ground. Both members help build the nest which is made from grass and twigs. They lay up to 4 eggs that will hatch in about 4 weeks. Both parents help to feed the young birds. The young will fledge at about 5 weeks. Sometimes females will share a nest and you can see up to eight chicks in these nests.
These Gulls will migrate in flocks, following coastlines and river valleys. In the Pacific Northwest during the winter months, you can see many along the coast. During the 20th century, these gulls were in decline due to hunting, but now they have rebounded quite well and there are estimated to be around 3 to 4 million of them.