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)


Birds Of The Bible – Gull With A Broken Wing

Laughing Gull Imm injured wing

Laughing Gull Imm injured wing

Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. (Matthew 10:29 KJV)

Yesterday, Dan and I went to Lake Hollingsworth in Lakeland, FL for a little birdwatching and to just enjoy the day. It was around 77 degrees and a few clouds were hanging out. Just another beautiful day from the Lord. After walking as far as I could, we turned around and retraced our steps back along the southern shore of the lake.

My legs are doing much better, praise the Lord, but I still have issues. I stopped to rest a minute and spotted a Laughing Gull along the shore. Something in its appearance didn’t seem right, so I got up to investigate. (They have benchs along the way.) What I found was that the Gull had a wing hanging down and I assume it was broken. It appears to be an immature Laughing.

Laughing Gull Imm injured wing

Laughing Gull Imm injured wing

The bird walked up by the tree and kept dragging it’s wing as you can see in the third photo.

Laughing Gull Imm injured wing

Laughing Gull Imm injured wing

I know that verse has been many used times here with the Birds of the Bible articles, but it still applies so well. That verse popped into my thoughts while observing the Gull’s situation. The verse mentions the Sparrow, but all birds were created by the Lord and it applies to them as well. I do not believe that He is only aware of just Sparrows that fall. God is ever-present, all-knowing, and all-powerful, so how could God NOT KNOW?

We know that verse was used to encourage those being persecuted (v.23) to not fear, knowing that the Father is aware of what they were experiencing. They did not need to worry about someone who could destroy their soul. (v.28) The passage goes on to reassure them that they are more valuable than sparrows or birds.

Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. (Matthew 10:31 KJV)

Not sure if Gulls “worry.” but that immature bird was in a very precarious situation. Without that wing he (or she) was very vulnerable to what could happen to it. There was a Red-shouldered Hawk flying by and I believe that that might be the tree it landed in when we went by the first time. I was trying to get its photo, but it flew off. I didn’t notice the Gull then. When we noticed the bird on the way back, the Hawk was still flying in the area.

The Bible Knowledge Commentary says this about verse 31: “for their (the persecuted) Father was truly concerned for them and aware of their circumstances. He is aware of the death of a sparrow which is worth so little. Two sparrows were sold for a mere penny (assarion, a Gr. copper coin worth about 1/16 of a Roman denarius, a day’s wages). God the Father also knows the number of hairs on a person’s head (Mat_10:30). The apostles were instructed not to fear for they, being far more valuable to God than sparrows, were seen and known by Him. ”

Believer’s Bible Commentary: “10:30, 31 The same God who takes a personal interest in the tiny sparrow keeps an accurate count of the hairs of the head of each of His children. A strand of hair is of considerably less value than a sparrow. This shows that His people are of more value to Him than many sparrows, so why should they fear?”

Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 10:32-33 KJV)

We should not be afraid to tell others about the Saving Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, nor that we believe that God is the Self-Existent, All-Knowing, All-Powerful, Ever-Present, Loving (He gave His Son to die for our sins.), Creator of the world and all these birds, critters, and us.

What will be the fate of the Laughing Gull? I have no clue, but God already knows all about its situation, but better yet, He knows all out us and our situations and circumstances. He cares and wants us to put our trust in Him.

Sharing The Gospel

And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times, and strength of salvation: the fear of the LORD is his treasure. (Isaiah 33:6 KJV)

See more Birds of the Bible


Birds of the Bible – A Gull?

Common Gull (Larus canus) by Robert Scanlon

Common Gull (Larus canus) by Robert Scanlon

The following two verses have been used several times in the Birds of the Bible articles. It is interesting in how one of the birds is translated in the various versions.

the ostrich, the nighthawk, the sea gull, the hawk of any kind, (Leviticus 11:16 ESV)
the ostrich, the nighthawk, the sea gull, the hawk of any kind; (Deuteronomy 14:15 ESV)

I have been reading through the English Standard Version and found the “sea gull” listed in those verses. Those verses are in the list of the birds the Israelites were not to eat. Previously, I had used the KJV which translates  “שׁחף” as “the cuckoo: Shachpaph, probably the sea-gull or mew”(H7828).

See Birds of the Bible – Cuckoo and Cuckoo II where the Cuckoo is considered as the bird mentioned. But, what if it is one of the other options? Those options would be the sea-hawk, seamew, seagull or gull. Only one mentions the sea-hawk, so for now that will be ignored until another time.

Mew Gull (Larus canus) by Ian

Mew Gull (Larus canus) by Ian

A Seamew according to Wikipedia is the Common Gull (European and Asian subspecies; see below) or Mew Gull (North American subspecies) Larus canus which is a medium-sized gull which breeds in northern Asia, northern Europe and northwestern North America. It migrates further south in winter. Its name does not indicate that it is an abundant species, but that during the winter it feeds on common land, short pasture used for grazing.

Mew Gull (Larus canus) by Daves BirdingPix

Mew Gull (Larus canus) by Daves BirdingPix

Adults are 15.7-18.1 in (40-46 cm) long, obviously smaller than the Herring Gull, and slightly smaller than the Ring-billed Gull, also differing from this in its shorter, more tapered bill with a more greenish shade of yellow, as well as being unmarked during the breeding season. The body is grey above and white below. The legs are greenish-yellow. In winter, the head is streaked grey, and the bill often has a poorly-defined blackish band near the tip (sometimes sufficiently obvious to cause confusion with Ring-billed Gull). They have black wingtips with large white “mirrors”. Young birds have scaly black-brown upperparts and a neat wing pattern, and grey legs. They take two to three years to reach maturity. The call is a high-pitched “laughing” cry.

Mew Gull (Larus canus) chicks ©USFWS

Mew Gull (Larus canus) chicks ©USFWS

Both Common and Mew Gulls breed colonially near water or in marshes, making a lined nest on the ground or in a small tree; colony size varies from 2 to 320 or even more pairs. Usually three eggs are laid (sometimes just one or two); they hatch after 24–26 days, with the chicks fledging after a further 30–35 days. Like most gulls, they are omnivores and will scavenge as well as hunt small prey. The global population is estimated to be about one million pairs; they are most numerous in Europe, with over half (possibly as much as 80-90%) of the world population. By contrast, the Alaskan population is only about 10,000 pairs.

Some of the commentaries have this to say about the bird:
Jamieson, Faussett, and Brown – “the cuckoo — Evidently some other bird is meant by the original term, from its being ranged among rapacious birds. Dr. Shaw thinks it is the safsaf; but that, being a graminivorous and gregarious bird, is equally objectionable. Others think that the sea mew, or some of the small sea fowl, is intended.”
K & D – “slender gull
Barnes – “Lev_11:16 – And the owl … – Rather, “and the ostrich, and the owl, and the gull, and the hawk,” etc.
John Gill’s – “and the cuckoo; a bird well known by its voice at least: some have thought it to be the same with the hawk, changing its figure and voice; but this has been refuted by naturalists (a): but though it is here forbidden to be eaten, yet its young, when fat, are said to be of a grateful savour by Aristotle: and Pliny (b) says, no bird is to be compared to it for the sweetness of its flesh, though perhaps it may not be here intended: the word is by the Septuagint rendered asea gull”, and so it is by Ainsworth, and which is approved of by Bochart (c):”

Laughing Gull (Leucophaeus atricilla) by Lee

Laughing Gull (Leucophaeus atricilla) by Lee

Will the mystery be solved? Not by me. I still find it amazing that the different versions use the different meaning for words, but then again, that is just like today. Our language is constantly changing the definitions of words or making other things mean the same.

Just keeping up with the names of birds today is a challenge. Every 3-4 months the I.O.C. make changes. Names of birds come and go. One bird can have many names and the different countries name them different. That is the reason they use the scientific names so they can talk about the same bird. Problem to that is that they even change the scientific name occasionally. The birds mentioned in Scripture were named in those verses several thousand years ago.

One thing is certain, there is one thing that remains the same:

Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. (Hebrews 13:8 KJV)
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8 ESV)
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and to-day, yea and for ever. (Hebrews 13:8 ASV)
Jesus Christ yesterday and to-day the same, and to the ages; (Hebrews 13:8 YLT)


Birds of the Bible – Sea Gulls


Gulls and Terns

Graceful, water-loving aerialists, gulls and terns are constant companions at the water’s edge. Rather than an exhaustive identification seminar, this video focuses on the range of variation within this elegant group.

Back to the Peterson Field Guide Video Series

“Gulls and Terns” Video is from petersonfieldguides at YouTube

See Also:

Birds of the Bible – Sea Gulls