About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Jonathan Livingston Seagull

Birds are everywhere but seem to exist in an alternate universe, overlooked by most people. Even I don’t think about some birds that don’t visit me every day at my feeders or birdbaths. So today I’m writing about the “seagull” I see circling the parking lot of the Lake Lansing Rd Meijer across from our East Lansing Wild Birds Unlimited store as I carry out seed.

Their population has increased in Mid-Michigan due to its scavenging abilities. Some people view them as pests seen at many parks, beaches, golf courses, fast food restaurants, or grocery store parking lots. However their ability to thrive with all of the land developments is something to appreciate.

The Ring-billed Gull Larus delawarensis
Order: CHARADRIIFORMES Family: Gulls, Terns, Skimmers (Laridae)

Description: There are differences in plumage depending on the 18-20” medium-sized gulls age. An adult is all white except for gray back and wings and wingtips that are black, but in the winter they usually have a pale gray hood. The legs are yellow, and so is the bill which has a distinctive black ring that gives the species its common name. Each juvenile has a wide brown band at the end of its tail, and the rump, head, and breast are more or less marked with brown speckles. A young bird also has brownish rather than gray wings, pink legs, and the end of the bill is entirely dark rather than ringed.

General: These noisy white birds are likely to be found along major rivers and large lakes in Michigan but despite the misnomer of "seagull" they can be drawn inland by easier pickings than they can find along the shore. A group of gulls has many collective nouns, including a "flotilla", "gullery", "screech", "scavenging", and "squabble" of gulls.

Behavior: Ring-billed gulls nest once a year in colonies on the ground, and sometimes in trees near inland lakes. Nests are built by both members of a monogamous breeding pair. Nests are constructed of dead plant material including twigs, sticks, grasses, leaves, lichens and mosses, and may be interspersed with those of other water birds. They have been recorded living as long as 23 years in the wild. However, it is likely that the majority of the birds average 3 to 10 years.

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