Ring-billed Gull In Earlier Than Normal Definitive Alternate Plumage

/, Ring-billed Gulls, Salt Lake County, Utah/Ring-billed Gull In Earlier Than Normal Definitive Alternate Plumage

Ring-billed Gull in breeding plumage during JanuaryRing-billed Gull in breeding plumage during January – Nikon D500, f8, 1/1250, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

In my post on the runty second winter Ring-billed Gull I mentioned that I had seen two unusual Ring-billed Gulls on January the 3rd at my local pond. The second unusual gull I photographed that day was a Ring-billed Gull that was in earlier than normal breeding plumage, or as it is also known, Definitive Alternate Plumage. The molt wasn’t quite complete the day I photographed it because there is at least one worn feather showing on its rump, but close enough.

Ring-billed Gull who molted earlier than normalRing-billed Gull who molted earlier than normal – Nikon D500, f13, 1/500, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

This Ring-billed Gull stood out from all of the other Ring-billed Gulls near it because of its bill being a much brighter yellow, its head being pure white and the bright red orbital (eye) ring. That head was as white or whiter than the snow on the ground at the time I took these photographs.

Ring-billed Gull in Definitive Alternate PlumageRing-billed Gull in Definitive Alternate Plumage – Nikon D500, f13, 1/500, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

I start seeing some Ring-billed Gulls in breeding/Definitive Alternate Plumage in February but I sure didn’t expect to see this one on the third day of January, I was quite surprised by it.

Resting Ring-billed Gull in Definitive Basic PlumageResting Ring-billed Gull in Definitive Basic Plumage – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/2000, ISO 640, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

I wanted to include images of Ring-billed Gulls in nonbreeding, or as it is also known, Definitive Basic Plumage for comparison. The gull above does not show the brighter yellow bill, it has neutral gray spotting on its head, neck and chest and the ring around its eye is a jet black not red. This Ring-billed Gull was photographed on December 25th at the same pond as the one in early January.

Ring-billed Gull portrait in Definitive Basic PlumageRing-billed Gull portrait in Definitive Basic Plumage – Nikon D500, f11, 1/1250, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

I photographed this portrait of a Ring-billed Gull in nonbreeding/Definitive Basic Plumage on December 13th at the same location as the other gulls which shows the spotting on the head and neck, the black eye ring and a dull, yellowish bill. I love portraits because they show so much detail.

I hope that I get to see and photograph some more unusual or rare gulls this winter. They can sure brighten the dreary days!

Life is good.

Mia

4 Comments

  1. Elephant's Child January 17, 2017 at 2:02 pm

    The early bird catches the…
    Gorgeous portraits.

  2. Utahbooklover January 17, 2017 at 11:27 am

    Great images. I do get confused by the different plumage so I appreciate this information.

  3. Patty Chadwick January 17, 2017 at 9:00 am

    These birds are so clean looking, even though some of their eating habits aren’t…I love the color of their eyes…

  4. Krishna Prasad January 17, 2017 at 7:59 am

    Hi Mia, your photographs are really good. can you let me know which ponds do you photograph ?

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