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Ring-billed Gull - Larus delawarensis
First-years
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First-winter Ring-billed Gull, Merrit Lake, Oakland, California, USA 13th November 2009
Not the strongly bi-coloured bill, reminiscent of first-winter Glaucous Gull. The basal two thirds is orange-pink whilst the tip is black, the dipped in ink appearance. The very end of the bill is pale.

The overall appearance of the birds is on the pale/whitish side despite the fine though fairly extensive head streaking and neck 'spots'/

The scapulars are pale grey with broad whitish fringes and darker sub-terminal crescents with the upper feathers this appearing as arrowheads.

The lesser and median wing coverts are dark brown with broad white fringes whilst the greater coverts are largely whitish with limited dark barring.

The tertials are dark brown with neat white fringes however the tips are already worn and abraded.

The primaries are long and black whilst the legs are are also long and fleshy coloured.

The overall appearance of the bird is rather rangy.
First-winter Ring-billed Gull, Merrit Lake, Oakland, California, USA 13th November 2009
A more boldly marked bird than the above with the head streaking more obvious whilst the breast and under-parts show pale brownish-grey chevrons.

The scapulars are pale grey, looking fairly dark in this image, with pale fringes and dark subterminal markings. The wing-coverts are brown with broad white fringes whilst the greater coverts are similar to the bird above in being mostly pale whitish.

The tertials are dark brown with white fringing. The primaries are long, blackish and pointed confirming they are still fully juvenile.

The bill is pinkish based and black tipped and more slender than the previous bird.

The appearance is of a small individual than the previous bird.
First-winter Ring-billed Gull, Merrit Lake, Oakland, California, USA 13th November 2009
An overall much paler bird with weaker plumage markings. The bill is pale pink based and black tipped and there is fine streaking on the head turning to spotting on the hind neck.

The 'saddle' is pale grey with some feathers exhibiting the darker feather centres and pale whitish fringes. The wing coverts are faded with the greater coverts nearly all completely pale whitish with very faded pale brown centres.
First-winter Ring-billed Gull, Laguna Park, San Louis Obispo, California, USA 23rd November 2009
Another faded bird on the wing coverts. The bill base is almost orange-pink and the head and neck streaking quite bold and obvious though missing from the lores and bill base.

The breast shows pale greyish chevrons whilst the scapulars and mantle feathers are plain pale grey with no dark marks.
First-winter Ring-billed Gull, Laguna Park, San Louis Obispo, California, USA 23rd November 2009
The greyish-brown chevrons are fairly obvious on the breast and breast sides on this bird extending down along the flanks.

The wing-coverts are faded with the greater coverts largely pale whitish with darker centres and tips.

The bill on this bird is rather slender and drop tipped perhaps giving the impression of a Common Gull and it may be that this bird is a female as it is on the small side.
First-winter Ring-billed Gull, Merrit Lake, Oakland, California, USA 13th November 2009
A small short, stubby billed individual. The face is open with an expression almost of surprise. There is very fine streaking on the crown and ear coverts becoming bolder on the lower hind-neck. There is a light dusting of pale greyish chevrons on the breast which barely register on the flanks.

This bird is also a little more advanced than the birds above in that a couple of the inner median coverts and some of the tertials have been replaced with fresher next generation grey feathers.

The scapulars are pale grey but show darker brown subterminal arrowheads and shaft streaks with pale whitish fringes.

The primaries are very dark.
First-winter Ring-billed Gull, Merrit Lake, Oakland, California, USA 13th November 2009
Features as decribed above.
First-winter Ring-billed Gull, Merrit Lake, Oakland, California, USA 13th November 2009
Features as decribed above.
First-winter Ring-billed Gull, Merrit Lake, Oakland, California, USA 13th November 2009
A darker individual.
This heavily marked bird shows much darker plumage characters than normal; heavier head and neck streaking; bolder breast chevrons brownish under-parts and dark base to the neck.

Some central median coverts have been replaced
First-winter Ring-billed Gull, Salton Sea, California, USA 18th November 2009
Note the pale window on the inner primaries there the pale grey feathers are tipped dark blackish-brown. The upper-tail coverts are bright white with minimal dark spotting.
First-winter Ring-billed Gull, Salton Sea, California, USA 18th November 2009
Note the pale window on the inner primaries there the pale grey feathers are tipped dark blackish-brown. The upper-tail coverts are bright white with minimal dark spotting.

The greater coverts are pale-whitish creating a pale greater covert bar across the wing which contrasts with the darker brown median coverts and the almost blackish secondaries.
First-summer Ring-billed Gull, Roll Over Pass, Bolivar Peninsula, Texas, USA April 2008
By early spring the scapulars are uniform pale grey; the wing coverts are all washed out and faded whilst the whole bird looks tatty due to heavy abrasion.