river talk

Gulls of the Delaware

By SCOTT RANDO
Posted 1/27/21

When I check out areas of the Delaware or Mongaup rivers for eagles, it’s not just the eagles I am looking for. Eagles are foraging for fish, including fish that were stunned or killed by …

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river talk

Gulls of the Delaware

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When I check out areas of the Delaware or Mongaup rivers for eagles, it’s not just the eagles I am looking for. Eagles are foraging for fish, including fish that were stunned or killed by passing through power-generating turbines. Other birds are looking for these snacks as well, including gulls. If I see a lot of gull activity on the water, then chances are eagles will be in the area as well.

The gulls seen in the area at this time of year are the ring-billed gull (Larus delawarensis). Ring-billed gulls are opportunistic feeders. Aside from being found near rivers and lakes with open water, they also frequent dumps and, sometimes, freshly plowed fields. They also forage for worms and insects. Many times, they can be seen in parking lots of large stores, where they find edible tidbits among the trash dropped on the ground by shoppers.

Ring-billed gulls are medium-sized gulls, about the size of a crow. When mature, they have a white head, grey wings and their namesake black ring around the outer part of the bill. Both the bill and eyes are yellow in color. They vocalize, but not as much as a herring gull, for instance. This species of gull is common along the coast of the Northeastern U.S.

There are ring-billed gulls along the coast, but they are outnumbered by the herring gull, a larger gull frequently called a “seagull.” Many ring-billed gulls, like the ones seen in our region, lead largely inland lives. Along the river, the Lackawaxen confluence is a good bet for seeing ring-billed gulls, and if they are active, landing and alighting from the water frequently, they have found food that might attract some eagles as well.

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