Canadian Atlas of Bird Banding

Volume 2: Seabirds, 1921–1995.
(Gaston et al., 2008)

Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis) 54.0

Map showing connections between banding and encounter locations for: Ring-billed Gull (west).
Encounters (west): Ring-billed Gull (block size = 12.1°; excludes birds moving <400 km) View data table
Map showing connections between banding and encounter locations for: Ring-billed Gull (young/east/north).
Encounters (young/east/north): Ring-billed Gull (block size = 13.1°; excludes birds moving <400 km) View data table
Map showing connections between banding and encounter locations for: Ring-billed Gull (young/east/south).
Encounters (young/east/south): Ring-billed Gull (block size = 2.1°; excludes birds moving <400 km) View data table
Map showing connections between banding and encounter locations for: Ring-billed Gull (adult/east).
Encounters (adult/east): Ring-billed Gull (block size = 8.1°; excludes birds moving <200 km) View data table
Map showing connections between banding and encounter locations for: Ring-billed Gull (transatlantic).
Encounters (transatlantic): Ring-billed Gull View data table

Ring-billed Gulls breed in two more or less distinct populations: a western group centred on the prairies and breeding south to Colorado and Wyoming, and an eastern one concentrated in the Great Lakes but extending down the St. Lawrence River to the Gulf of St. Lawrence, with outliers in James Bay, northeastern Newfoundland, and southern Labrador (Blokpoel and Tessier 1986). The western population shares some of the Pacific coast wintering range of California Gulls, but also winters inland in the Mississippi valley and northern Mexico. Eastern breeders winter on the Atlantic coast, especially in Florida and on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, straggling to the West Indies. Until recently, these two populations were separated by a clear "migratory divide" west of Lake Superior, but new colonies have been discovered at Lake of the Woods in the centre of this divide (Blokpoel and Tessier 1986).

Most banding operations have concentrated on chicks. In the eastern population, 70% of all bands have been put on in Ontario. Encounters have been analyzed by Southern (1974), Blokpoel and Haymes (1979), and Blokpoel and Tessier (1986), who also documented the dramatic increase in this species since the late 1940s. Encounters of western birds were analyzed by Vermeer (1970a). Blokpoel and Haymes (1979; see also Blokpoel and Courtney 1982) used band encounters to determine the origins of birds establishing a new colony near Toronto and developed a "contribution index," which showed that the largest and closest colonies contributed most recruits to the new colony.

From May to September, most encounters reported for eastern birds were from the Great Lakes themselves. Dispersal begins in July and is widespread through September, with a number of encounters along the St. Lawrence seaway to the Gulf of St. Lawrence and a few on the U.S. Atlantic coast. There are a few xceptional encounters in Florida in July and August, but the main movement south is from October to December, chiefly along a corridor from lakes Erie and Ontario southeast to the Atlantic coast around Chesapeake Bay. In January and February, over half the encounters are in Florida (record 1), where many birds evidently winter. Northward migration begins in late February, retracing the southward route; by May, very few remain in Florida, and three-quarters of encounters are within the Great Lakes region. A decline in the proportion of encounters from Florida in November–February since the 1960s suggests that the centre of gravity of the wintering area may have shifted northwards. The distribution of 1-year-old birds during the breeding season is unclear; they are encountered within the Great Lakes region then, but are rarely seen at the breeding colonies.

Although most of the population breeding in eastern Canada winters no farther south than Florida, there are significant numbers of encounters in the Caribbean, as well as one in Brazil (record 2). The latter is by far the most southerly record of the species (Brewer and Salvadori 1978); at that time, Ring-billed Gulls had not been recorded anywhere in continental South America (Meyer de Schauensee 1970). Thirty-two birds banded as nestlings in Ontario (mainly) and Quebec were encountered as follows: Bahamas, 11; Cuba, 7; Hispaniola, 6 (record 3); Jamaica, 3: Puerto Rico, 1; Guadeloupe, 2 (record 4); Antigua, 1; St. Lucia, 1 (record 5). The species is considered a "vagrant" in the Lesser Antilles (Bond 1985). Small numbers of eastern birds were encountered in Mexico, mostly on the Caribbean coast and in Yucatán (record 6); however, there are single encounters on the Pacific coast of Mexico (record 7) and in El Salvador (record 8).

The western population of Ring-billed Gulls winters especially in California (record 9). In contrast to the eastern population, birds banded in the Prairie provinces showed no encounters in the Caribbean basin; although many were encountered in Mexico, they were all north of 18°N and were predominantly from Pacific coast states, with about 30 encounters inland (records 10–12), including one in the Federal District. In spring, some birds take a direct, inland route to the breeding grounds, rather than retracing the ll migration, as California Gulls do (Vermeer 1970a). There is apparently very little interchange between western and eastern populations (Ryder et al. 1983), although a few encounters suggest dispersal between them (records 13–15).

Ring-billed Gulls occur regularly in Europe, with records from Spitsbergen, Norway, to Morocco and the Canary Islands; they occur annually in Britain (Perrins and Snow 1998). These records have become much more numerous in recent decades, perhaps because of the enormous increase in the North American population (Blokpoel and Tessier 1986); however, record 16 predates this increase and suggests that transatlantic stragglers may not be a new phenomenon. Record 17, which was fully authenticated, was at the time only the second record of the Ring-billed Gull in Spain and in mainland Europe. There has now been a second encounter in Iberia (record 18).

An Ontario-banded bird (record 19) encountered in 1981 at Presqu'île Provincial Park in Ontario holds the longevity record for this species of 25 years and 1 month (Clapp et al. 1982). The encounter code of record 20, encountered 29 years after banding, does not preclude the bird having been long dead and so does not supersede this record. There are several other >25-year-old encounters, but none was recently dead when found.

Encounter records: Ring-billed Gull
Band Number Sex Distance Duration Banding Encounter
Who Banded Age Day Location Latitude Longitude Day Location Latitude Longitude Condition How Obtained
0725-77544 U 1781 km S 3 yr. 8 mo. HHK L 24/06/78 near Saugeen Shores, ON 44°20'N 81°20'W 19/02/82 near Winter Garden, FL 28°20'N 81°20'W 1 3
0675-69481 U 5409 km S17°E 5 mo. AB L 22/06/68 near Presqu'île Point, ON 43°50'N 77°40'W 23/11/68 near Tefe, Amazonas, Brazil 3°20'S 64°40'W 2 28
0554-86641 U 3112 km S24°E 1 yr. 6 mo. JPL L 08/06/69 East Mary Island, ON 45°50'N 81°40'W 15/01/71 near Cabrera, Dominican Republic 19°30'N 70°0'W 5 28
0545-45100 U 3437 km S31°E 5 mo. HHS L 22/06/58 near Presqu'île Point, ON 43°50'N 77°40'W ??/11/58 near Pointe à Pitre, Guadeloupe 16°10'N 61°30'W 0 21
0725-63541 U 3705 km S31°E 1 yr. 1 mo. AB L 21/06/70 near Presqu'île Point, ON 45°50'N 77°40'W 28/08/71 St. Lucia, British West Indies 13°50'N 60°50'W 1 21
0675-67908 U 2762 km S27°W 7 mo. LGL L 03/07/67 near Presqu'île Point, ON 43°50'N 77°40'W 22/01/68 Yucatán State, Mexico 21°0'N 89°20'W 3 3
0675-66889 U 3576 km S47°W 7 mo. LGL L 01/07/68 near Presqu'île Point, ON 43°50'N 77°40'W ??/02/69 Michoacán State, MEXICO 19°0'N 102°0'W -1 -1
0725-74373 U 3899 km S3°W 2 yr. 9 mo. JPR L 14/07/71 near Black Bay, ON 48°40'N 88°20'W 99/04/74 near Acajutla, El Salvador 13°40'N 89°50'W 0 28
0025-72235 ? 1874 km S27°W 1 yr. 4 mo. FLF U 18/06/33 15 km east of Alliance, AB 2°20'N 112°40'W LT/10/34 Boardwalk Beach, CA 36°50'N 122°0'W 0 53
0003-67874 U 2408 km S11°W 9 mo. FLF HY 08/06/49 11 km south of Venn, SK 51°20'N 105°10'W 05/03/50 Sonora State, MEXICO 30°0'N 110°0'W 0 1
0525-03250 U 3774 km S9°E 9 mo. CSH L 01/07/56 near Redberry Lake, SK 52°40'N 107°10'W 31/03/57 Michoacán State, Mexico 19°0'N 99°0'W 1 20
0535-87392 U 3616 km S25°E 1 yr. 8 mo. MTM L 17/06/72 near Kemp Lake, AB 49°50'N 113°0'W 10/02/74 Federal District, Mexico 19°20'N 102°0'W 4 21
0555-24856 U 2292 km N47°W 14 yr. 10 mo. AB L 01/07/58 near Presqu'île Point, ON 43°50'N 77°40'W 03/05/73 Stanley Mission, SK 55°20'N 104°30'W 5 1
0006-99706 U 4155 km N74°E 4 yr. 10 mo. FLF L 28/06/28 Bittern Lake, AB 53°0'N 113°0'W LT/04/33 Kelligrews, NL 47°30'N 53°30'W 0 31
0715-55359 U 1353 km S64°E 1 yr. 0 mo. DRH L 17/07/70 near Pebble Beach, MB 51°0'N 98°30'W 99/07/71 Harrisville, MI 44°30'N 83°10'W 5 0
0416-69469 U 4270 km N81°E 5 mo. HHS L 10/06/45 near Midland, ON 44°40'N 80°0'W 04/11/45 Pico, Azores 38°30'N 28°30'W 0 1
0575-00956 U 5992 km S72°E 7 mo. AB L 27/06/64 near Presqu'île Point, ON 43°50'N 77°40'W 20/01/65 Barbate de Franco, Spain 36°10'N 5°50'W 0 98
0704-33203 U 6296 km N63°E 6 mo. TBO L 08/07/80 Toronto, ON 43°30'N 79°20'W 21/01/81 near Barcelona, Spain 41°10'N 0°20'E 3 0
0525-00717 U - 25 yr. 1 mo. LGL L 24/06/56 near Presqu'île Point, ON 43°50'N 77°40'W 28/07/81 near Presqu'île Point, ON 43°50'N 77°40'W 0 3
0386-67422 U 0 km 29 yr. 3 mo. JHB L 23/06/38 Collins Bay, ON 44°10'N 76°30'W 04/09/67 Collins Bay, ON 44°10'N 76°30'W 2 98
Expand table of encounter records
Summary of banding statistics: Ring-billed Gull
Category Age at banding
Hatch Year After Hatch Year Any Age
No. of Canadian bandings (1955-1995) 0 0 264557
No. encountered per 1000 banded (1955-1995) 0 0 35
Total no. encountered (1921-1995) 11927 444 12336
No. encountered from foreign bandings 1793 131 1998
Maximum period from banding to encounter (mo.) 301 182 301
No. of Canadian-banded birds moving > 0 km 8719 190 9053
Mean movement > 0 km of Canadian-banded birds 530 339 528
Maximum movement from all encounters (km) 6296 2589 6296
% recovered (encountered dead) 86 70 86
% direct recoveries 56 26 55
% encountered during banding operations 2 11 3

Banding effort: Ring-billed Gull

Map showing the distribution of banding effort for Ring-billed Gull in Canada.
Banding Effort Data Table
Region Total Banded
Alberta 3727
British Columbia 22
Northwest Territories 94
Manitoba 4460
New Brunswick 101
Newfoundland and Labrador 2509
Ontario 216042
Quebec 17427
Saskatchewan 20181
Total 264563

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