Many years, ring-billed gulls are the most common wintering gull in Kansas, having moved southward from nesting areas in central Canada and some places in the American West.
Like many birds, ringbills may have several plumage looks as they mature. Their namesake black ring at the end of their beak is a constant no matter the age.
In the winter, these birds with a 48-inch wingspan often feed at landfills and on large reservoirs and lakes where they can catch fish. When winter ice melts off lakes and reservoirs, ringbills (like bald eagles) can make an easy living on winter-killed shad and other small fish. They’ll also grab dead or stunned fish released out of a dam during periods of high water.
Often arriving in late summer and not leaving until well into spring, ringbills also do mankind a service by eating a wide variety of insects, including grasshoppers. Ringbills commonly mix with herring gulls, which lack the black ring on their bill, and also have a much larger wingspan stretching nearly 60 inches.