Status: Scarce winter visitor to all Irish coasts from September to April.
Conservation Concern: Green-listed in Ireland. The North American population is not threatened.
Identification: Slightly larger than Common Gull in size and very similar to that species. Adult summer Ring-billed Gulls are most easily identified by the thick yellow band with broad black band near the tip. In comparison to Common Gull, has a pale iris and slightly paler grey upperparts. Adult winter birds are similar to summer-plumaged birds, but have a variably streaked head. First winter Ring-billed Gulls have a densely streaked head, as well as barred underparts. The wing also has extensive brown and black markings, while the tail has a broad black bar at the tip. The legs and bill are pale pink, with the latter having an obvious black tip. Second winter Ring-billed Gulls appear similar to adult winter birds, but retain some markings on the tail and tend to have more extensive markings on the wing. The bill and legs are a dull greenish colour.
Similar Species: Common and Herring Gulls.
Call: Usually silent when seen in Ireland. Otherwise very similar to Common Gull.
Diet: Omnivorous like the Common Gull, feeding on a wide variety of prey (crustaceans, fish, and starfish) and may also scavenge at rubbish tips.
Breeding: Has bred in Ireland. This involved a Ring-billed Gull successfully pairing with a Common Gull and producing hybrid young. The normal breeding range of Ring-billed Gull is in North America.
Wintering: The normal wintering range lies from the southern United States to Panama. A rare winter visitor to Ireland with around 10 to 15 individuals noted annually.
Where to See: Nimmo’s Pier in Galway City regularly hosts 3 to 5 Ring-billed Gulls in winter. Sandymount Strand in Dublin Bay also attracts one or two individuals.
Monitored by: Irish Wetland Bird Survey and BirdTrack.