Family Gulls, Terns, Skimmers (Laridae)

Least Concern

Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis)


French: Goéland à bec cerclé German: Ringschnabelmöwe Spanish: Gaviota de Delaware

Larus Delawarensis


, 1815,

Philadelphia, USA


Morphometric analysis links this species most closely with L. californicus. Has possibly hybridized with L. canus and with L. fuscus (of race graellsii). W population significantly larger than E one and possibly subspecifically distinct. Currently treated as monotypic.


NW USA (N California, E Washington) and S Canada (interior British Columbia) across prairie provinces and N mountain and plains states; Great Lakes to Maritime Provinces. Winters in S portion of breeding range S to Gulf coast, Central America and Greater Antilles, increasingly ranging to Lesser Antilles.

Descriptive notes

46–54 cm; 400–590 g; wingspan 121–127 cm. Three-year gull. The breeding adult has a white head, body and tail,  pale grey mantle and upperwings; black... read more


High-pitched and hoarse, with a wheezy, scratchy quality. The long call is rather slow, beginning... read more


Breeds colonially on low-lying islands in freshwater lakes, also on wet meadows, rarely on rivers.... read more

Food and feeding

Highly opportunistic, readily scavenging food provided by human activities. A study of foraging behaviour of four gull species near... read more


Lays late April to May. Laying may often be delayed by snow cover in the north of the range.  Colonies often very large. Builds a... read more


Departures from the breeding colonies are during July–August, although some juveniles leave... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). The global population is now estimated at c. 1,500,000–2,000,000 pairs. The species declined dramatically during the late 19th... read more

Recommended citation

Burger, J., Gochfeld, M. & Garcia, E.F.J. (2019). Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 19 January 2019).