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March 17, 2012 / Leslie

Weekend Birding: Ring-billed Gull

I was at Navy Pier in downtown Chicago yesterday for the Flower and Garden Show. It was a beautiful day and the pier was crowded with people enjoying the sunshine. We sat down for a few minutes to look out over the lakefront when a gull started making noise. This is such a common bird I often overlook them, but this one was calling attention to himself.

This is a Ring-billed Gull, a medium sized gull named for the black ring that circles the beak. They can be found across the United States and southern Canada. They are a year-round resident in the Chicago area although some of them do migrate south in the winter. Usually found in large groups near beaches and other waterways, they can often be seen circling parking lots or at sporting events scavenging for garbage. They are sometimes called the “fast food gull”.

They are social birds and don’t mind people. They were hovering over anyone walking on the pier who was trying to enjoy a snack and hoping for a handout. These are the same birds that make a nuisance of themselves by landing in Wrigley Field during baseball games and buzzing the fans.

In the late 19th century, this bird was hunted for its plumage. Its population has since rebounded from protection under the Migratory Bird Act and environmental regulations. It is now one of the most common gulls in North America.

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce at At Home With Books. Visit her blog to see more great photos or add your own.



Leave a Comment
  1. Cathy / Mar 17 2012 3:04 am

    I’ve never turned down a bird that insisted on having its picture taken. Bad karma!


  2. Dragonflydaydreams / Mar 17 2012 3:41 am

    The colour of the sea behind the gulls is magiocally too.


    • Leslie / Mar 17 2012 9:17 am

      Believe it or not, that is Lake Michigan, and I didn’t alter the color. It was hazy over the lake but the color of the water was uncharacteristically beautiful.


  3. alldigital photography / Mar 17 2012 5:20 am

    A beautiful portrait of a gull and very nice tones.


    • Leslie / Mar 17 2012 9:38 am

      Thanks for stopping by. Enjoyed looking at your blog. I’m in the market for a new (as in better) lens for bird photography and appreciate your thorough lens reviews.


  4. kaye / Mar 17 2012 6:34 am

    I would caption this one ” not sure I like this new mouthwash” Cute photo!


    • Leslie / Mar 17 2012 9:44 am

      He does look like he was doing a little gargling, but actually he was screeching… loudly.


  5. Susan / Mar 17 2012 7:34 am

    Whenever I see gulls, I think of the gulls in the Pixar film, Finding Nemo …. ‘mine?mine?mine?’ Your first shot couldn’t be better! What a pose!


    • Leslie / Mar 17 2012 9:45 am

      I loved Nemo! I even bought a clown fish for my aquarium but they are difficult fish to keep healthy and the poor thing got ick and died. No more clown fish for me.


  6. BermudaOnion / Mar 17 2012 7:41 am

    I’ve seen plenty of those! Your pictures, as always, are fantastic!


  7. Trish / Mar 17 2012 7:43 am

    I wonder if those are the same ones we get on Lake Ontario? I’ll have to take a closer look next time. That ringed beak is pretty distinctive.


    • Leslie / Mar 17 2012 9:19 am

      They reside at the great lakes year round so I’m sure you have them too.


  8. Diane@BibliophileBytheSea / Mar 17 2012 7:46 am

    Love the mouth open shot — great photos.


  9. Jackie / Mar 17 2012 8:22 am

    I always take pictures of gulls!!


  10. laurelrainsnow / Mar 17 2012 8:37 am

    I can almost hear that top gull…lol

    What a beautiful shot…thanks for sharing, and for the historic facts.



    • Leslie / Mar 17 2012 10:05 am

      He, or she, they look alike, was very loud. And that went on for a minute or so! Then the other bird showed up, so I suppose that was a ‘get over here now’ call.


  11. irene / Mar 17 2012 9:46 am

    What a good piece of information. I had no idea. I have a thing for gulls, I know our local elementary school would not let the students eat outside because of the gulls. But I have really no problem, better they clean up the garbage than it lay there.


    • Leslie / Mar 17 2012 10:09 am

      They’re usually pretty friendly but I can see where they might scare some of the children when they swoop down and practically take the food out of their hands!


  12. storygal / Mar 17 2012 10:25 am

    Love those photos of birds. You have photography of nature down to a science. 🙂


  13. Alyce (@AtHomeWithBooks) / Mar 17 2012 10:35 am

    Now that’s a bird I can actually identify! (Only due to marine biology class in high school where we had to memorize/identify sea birds on sight – including several gull species.)


  14. dyane / Mar 17 2012 12:41 pm

    looks like the gull is waiting for food from the gods whatever it may be. always fun to read the info you put with the photos Leslie thank you.


  15. Elena / Mar 17 2012 2:45 pm

    I love photos of birds, and that is a great one.


  16. Eva @View from the Hillside / Mar 17 2012 4:18 pm

    Great photos. Your really are good at his.


    • Leslie / Mar 18 2012 10:02 am

      Thanks. I have a lot of patience with the wildlife. Once they forget you are sitting there with the camera it’s easier to get action shots.


  17. rubyport / Mar 17 2012 4:41 pm

    Love that first picture! It’s such an unusual pose. I always look forward to your birds on Saturday.


  18. sim@chapter1-take1 / Mar 17 2012 4:45 pm

    I think that gull is giving your blog a shout out! My first visit here; I enjoyed it.


  19. Marie / Mar 18 2012 7:47 am

    Nice! Yep, we have garbage gulls here, too. They look so much prettier by the water rather than scavenging a parking lot looking for scraps. That water colour is outstanding. Great photos!


    • Marie / Mar 18 2012 7:48 am

      Very strange. I had to login to comment. I’ve never had to do that before. No big deal really, just different.


      • Leslie / Mar 18 2012 10:00 am

        I haven’t changed anything but I’m hosted with WordPress and sometimes they make changes without telling us.


  20. Cipriano / Mar 18 2012 2:57 pm

    You are right, for a common “gull” this one does look splendid. Healthy.
    The pic reminds me of once when I was on Vancouver Island and watched one of these very birds SWALLOW a starfish on a dock. It was a long and arduous, and very interesting process. And in the bird’s final throes of…. swallowage… this was pretty much the angle of it’s head. Except that its throat was completely bulged out — full of starfish!


    • Leslie / Mar 19 2012 8:54 am

      These gulls are well-fed. Not only do they have the lake to fish in, they have an assortment of upscale restaurants with outdoor seating on the pier and a some junk food and concession stands for snacks.

      I can imagine eating a starfish would not be easy. Especially if you don’t chew it first! That must have been quite a sight.


  21. Louise / Mar 19 2012 8:27 pm

    I love that top photo. He looks like he’s chortling away. It’s amazing when you take the time to notice the details of even common birds like gulls the extraordinary beauty that they have. I love that row of spots on the tail. Very stylish. And possibly why they were hunted previously.


  22. Carol / Mar 21 2012 3:56 pm

    I like seagulls until they turn scary demanding.



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