Adult and Juvenile Ring-billed Gulls

Adult Ring-billed Gull in flight on a January morningAdult Ring-billed Gull in flight on a January morning – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/1600, ISO 500, +1.0 EV, Nikon 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

When some birds fledge they look very much like their parents and usually there are just a few ways you can tell them from the adults. But in Ring-billed Gulls they look very different.

This adult Ring-billed Gull was photographed this past January at Farmington Bay WMA as it flew past me. I love the clean white plumage, the definite ring on the bill and the soft gray of the upper parts of its wings.

Juvenile Ring-billed Gull at Bear River MBRJuvenile Ring-billed Gull at Bear River MBR – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/800, ISO 640, -0.3 EV, Nikon 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

Looking at the gull above it would be hard for some people to tell that it is the same species as the gull in the photo above, but it is. I photographed this juvenile or hatch year Ring-billed Gull one year ago today while photographing at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge. No ring on the bill, no clean white and no gray showing at all. It will take several molts before this immature Ring-billed Gull looks like an adult but by now, a year after it was photographed, this juvenile should look more like the adult.

I think both adult and juvenile Ring-billed Gulls are beautiful whether they are on the wing or in the water.

Life is good.


(Sorry for hitting the publish button before I added my text content this morning, I needed more coffee!)


  1. Elephant's Child August 23, 2016 at 2:19 pm

    Love the young ‘uns camou. Nearly as stylish as its parent.

  2. Patty Chadwick August 23, 2016 at 9:50 am

    They sure are VERY different looking!!!…the young gull is very well camouflaged….

  3. Jorge H. Oliveira August 23, 2016 at 7:26 am

    It seems it is the same with all kinds of gulls. I recently photographed a juvenile Larus Argentatus and it was very diferent from the adult.
    Very interesting. Thank you.

  4. David Sparks August 23, 2016 at 7:12 am

    Another informative post. Thanks. I don’t have any photos of the hatch year bird and don’t think I have seen them very often in the Pensacola area. Surely they are there and I just need to open my eyes! I like the “Related”feature of your blog. I took a look at your earlier Age Progression post too. I missed that one.

  5. Bob McPherson August 23, 2016 at 7:07 am

    Beautiful photos, Mia.

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