Birds of North Carolina:
their Distribution and Abundance
Ring-billed Gull - Larus delawarensis
LARIDAE Members:
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General Comments The Ring-billed Gull is one of our most abundant birds in the winter season, especially along the coast. Populations of this and many other gulls have increased over the past few decades, as this group of birds has adapted to feeding at garbage dumps and at other places where humans leave food, even at large shopping center parking lots. This species breeds mostly at freshwater sites, especially around the Great Lakes, but also widely across the Canadian prairie region and eastward to Newfoundland. In winter and migration, the Ring-billed is by far the dominant gull inland in the United States, being very numerous at lakes, landfills, plowed fields, and other open areas fairly close to large bodies of water, where they roost for the night. Along the coast, Ring-billeds are very catholic in habitat -- inshore ocean, beaches, sounds, freshwater ponds, and many other places, often near man.
Breeding Status Nonbreeder
NC BRC List Definitive
Coastal Plain Transient and winter resident, especially in coastal and Tidewater areas. Abundant along the entire coast, and also in most Tidewater areas, including extensive plowed fields. Farther inland, somewhat local, but often common to locally abundant, such as near larger lakes and landfills. Mostly Sep into May, but small to moderate numbers of non-breeding birds are present along and near the coast all summer. Abundance tends to increase during periods of severe weather, as more birds are forced southward from the Great Lakes and the coast of the Northeast. Peak counts: 500,000, Hatteras Inlet, 26-29 Dec 1983, associated with a huge menhaden kill; far inland -- 16,000, south of Scotland Neck (Halifax), 6 Feb 2009.
Piedmont Transient and winter resident. Locally abundant, at least at larger lakes and at landfills; uncommon in many counties where there are few lakes of suitable size, but on the whole a common bird; numbers increase during severe weather. Normal dates are late Sep to early May, though often not abundant until Dec; a few may linger all summer. Peak counts: 28,000, Jordan Lake CBC, 4 Jan 2009; 20,861, Falls Lake CBC, 4 Jan 2004.
Mountains Transient and winter visitor/resident. Generally uncommon, mainly at low elevations and at larger lakes. Surprisingly scarce considering its abundance downstate. Mainly mid-Oct to mid-May. Peak counts: 400 (peak one-day count), Rosman landfill, winter 1987-88; 75, Asheville, 26 Apr 1983.
Finding Tips None needed.
Attribution LeGrand[2012-06-09], LeGrand[2011-12-04], LeGrand[2011-05-15]
NC Map
Map depicts all counties with a report (transient or resident) for the species.
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NA Maps
(source NatureServe)

View NatureServe distribution maps for Larus delawarensis