Our Wild Neighbors

Ring-billed Gull

Larus delawarensis

An opportunist with an amazing ability to adapt, found in all Canadian provinces

Image of a Ring-billed Gull, seen in profile with its head to the right, mounted on a wooden base painted green.

Description of the animal

  • About 45 centimetres long and weighs 0.7 kg. The male and female look alike.
  • White feathers on its head, neck, belly, and tail; wing and back feathers are grey. Wing tips are black with white spots.
  • Legs and feet greenish yellow.
  • Yellow bill. A black ring encircles it near its tip.
  • Brown plumage during the first years of life.

Habitat and needs

  • An opportunist. The Ring-Billed Gull eats whatever it finds: earthworms, fish, small mammals, garbage, and very rarely, fruit.
  • Nests in colonies among hundreds if not thousands of other pairs. It does not require much space, just open land ideally near water. The Ring-Billed Gull makes its nest directly on the ground. Pairs share the tasks of incubating the eggs and raising their young.
  • Life expectancy is 10 to 15 years. The Ring-Billed Gull’s main predators are the fox, raccoon, skunk, and Great Horned Owl.

Relationship

  • The Ring-Billed Gull was once a sea bird. It followed boats at sea in search of food. Today, it frequents landfill sites, marinas, golf courses, parks, and snack bar terraces where garbage cans are overflowing.
  • It sometimes collides with airplanes.
  • The Ring-Billed Gull sometimes damages crops: it eats seeds and earthworms. Fortunately, it also eats insect pests!
  • The Ring-Billed Gull is likely contributing to the decline of certain species, such as the Common Tern, Caspian Tern, and Piping Plover, with which it competes.

Living with them

  • Refrain from feeding the Ring-Billed Gull.
  • Use solid garbage cans with tightly closing covers to prevent attracting this bird.

Participating cities where this animal has been seen