Wing-tagged Ring-billed Gull

By Joe Sebastiani, Members Program Team Leader

This past Saturday, while birding along Port Mahon Road near Little Creek, DE, I came upon a blinged-out Ring-billed Gull.  It stood out among the hundreds of Laughing Gulls, Ruddy Turnstones, Dunlin, and Horseshoe Crabs because of a large pink tag on either side of its body.

Knowing that I had to read the markings on the wing, I studied the tag and saw that it read “A5”.  I also snapped a photo, determined to find out where this bird came from. 

Ring-billed Gull "A5" along the Delaware Bay at Port Mahon Road, Little Creek, DE.
Ring-billed Gull "A5" along the Delaware Bay at Port Mahon Road, Little Creek, DE.

A quick internet search showed that a study is taking place in Massachusetts focusing on Ring-billed, Herring, and Great Black-backed Gulls.  I emailed the project coordinator, and received a quick response.  “A5” was banded March 26, 2008 in Worcester, Mass, captured by using a rocket net baited with bread and crackers.  (The staple of every gull for generations.)

Since that time, it has been reported a few times.  May 4, 2008 in Portland Maine; May 20, 2008 in Lynn, Mass; May 30, 2008, again in Lynn, Mass; and July 15, 2008, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada.  The next report of “A5” was mine, last Saturday, May 9, 2009 near Little Creek, DE. 

If you see a wing-tagged gull, you can report your sighting to  Keep your eyes out!

Upcoming programs with the Delaware Nature Society include:  Evening Walk Series, various dates; Birding Series, various dates; Comparative Wildlife Anatomy, May 15; King Ranch Grassland Birds, May 27; Bird Nest Biology at Bucktoe, May 27; Reptile and Amphibian Foray, May 29; and Shorebird Migration and Horseshoe Crabs on the Delaware Bay, May 30.  See for registration information.

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