Birds Vol 1 #6 – The Ring-billed Gull

Ring-billed Gull for Birds Illustrated by Color Photography, 1897

Ring-billed Gull for Birds Illustrated by Color Photography, 1897, From col. Chi. Acad. Sciences.

Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited

Vol 1. June, 1897 No. 6




HE Ring-billed Gull is a common species throughout eastern North America, breeding throughout the northern tier of the United States, whose northern border is the limit of its summer home. As a rule in winter it is found in Illinois and south to the Gulf of Mexico. It is an exceedingly voracious bird, continually skimming over the surface of the water in search of its finny prey, and often following shoals of fish to great distances. The birds congregate in large numbers at their breeding places, which are rocky islands or headlands in the ocean. Most of the families of Gulls are somewhat migratory, visiting northern regions in summer to rear their young. The following lines give with remarkable fidelity the wing habits and movements of this tireless bird:

“On nimble wing the gull
Sweeps booming by, intent to cull
Voracious, from the billows’ breast,
Marked far away, his destined feast.
Behold him now, deep plunging, dip
His sunny pinion’s sable tip
In the green wave; now highly skim
With wheeling flight the water’s brim;
Wave in blue sky his silver sail
Aloft, and frolic with the gale,
Or sink again his breast to lave,
And float upon the foaming wave.
Oft o’er his form your eyes may roam,
Nor know him from the feathery foam,
Nor ’mid the rolling waves, your ear
On yelling blast his clamor hear.”

This Gull lives principally on fish, but also greedily devours insects. He also picks up small animals or animal substances with which he meets, and, like the vulture, devours them even in a putrid condition. He walks well and quickly, swims bouyantly, lying in the water like an air bubble, and dives with facility, but to no great depth.

As the breeding time approaches the Gulls begin to assemble in flocks, uniting to form a numerous host. Even upon our own shores their nesting places are often occupied by many hundred pairs, whilst further north they congregate in countless multitudes. They literally cover the rocks on which their nests are placed, the brooding parents pressing against each other.

Wilson says that the Gull, when riding bouyantly upon the waves and weaving a sportive dance, is employed by the poets as an emblem of purity, or as an accessory to the horrors of a storm, by his shrieks and wild piercing cries. In his habits he is the vulture of the ocean, while in grace of motion and beauty of plumage he is one of the most attractive of the splendid denizens of the ocean and lakes.

The Ring-billed Gull’s nest varies with localities. Where there is grass and sea weed, these are carefully heaped together, but where these fail the nest is of scanty material. Two to four large oval eggs of brownish green or greenish brown, spotted with grey and brown, are hatched in three or four weeks, the young appearing in a thick covering of speckled down. If born on the ledge of a high rock, the chicks remain there until their wings enable them to leave it, but if they come from the shell on the sand of the beach they trot about like little chickens. During the first few days they are fed with half-digested food from the parents’ crops, and then with freshly caught fish.

The Gull rarely flies alone, though occasionally one is seen far away from the water soaring in majestic solitude above the tall buildings of the city.

Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis) Lk Hollingsworth by Lee

Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis) Lk Hollingsworth by Lee

Lee’s Addition:

The Ring-billed Gull is a member of the Laridae Family in the Charadriiformes Order. They are mentioned in Bible’s New King James Version as one of the birds not to eat.

the ostrich, the short-eared owl, the sea gull, and the hawk after their kinds; (Deuteronomy 14:15 NKJV)

See Bible Birds – Sea Gulls and Birds of the Bible – Sea Gulls

We see them on a frequent basis here in Central Florida. They not only like the many lakes here in Polk County, but also many of the parking lots. Of course as you head to either of our shores, Gulf or Atlantic, many more are seen.

Ring-billed Gull (Winter Adult), Tampa Bay, Florida


Birds Illustrated by Color Photograhy Vol 1 June, 1897 No 6 - Cover

Birds Illustrated by Color Photograhy Vol 1 June, 1897 No 6 – Cover

Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited – Introduction

The above article is the first article in the monthly serial that was started in January 1897 “designed to promote Knowledge of Bird-Live.” These include Color Photography, as they call them, today they are drawings. There are at least three Volumes that have been digitized by Project Gutenberg.

To see the whole series of – Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited


(Information from Wikipedia and other internet sources)

Next Article – The Loggerhead Shrike

Previous Article – The Black-Crowned Night Heron

Wordless Birds


Laridae – Gulls, Terns and Skimmers

Ring-billed Gull – All About Birds

Ring-billed Gull – Wikipedia

Field Guide: Birds of the World – Larus delawarensis (Ring-billed Gull Photos)


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