Ray Bruun and I noticed this phenomenon last spring here in Redding, Shasta Co., California. We estimate now, having no notes from the time, that 10-20% of the 200 adult Ring-bills here showed pink-tinged body plumage. Ray tells me he is seeing some of these now, and would be happy to take some digital photos if that would be useful.
>>> "lisa hardy" <basalt@...> 02/03/03 05:24AM >>>
I am looking for reports of pink-tinged Ring-billed Gulls this spring in order to map their distribution, and possibly determine where they are coming from. Last year, small numbers were reported in March from NV, WA, ID and OR.
The coloring is fairly subtle – it occurs as a pale shell-pink wash through the white feathers of the head and body, but noticeable at close range and especially in comparison to adjacent, normal white birds. The leg and bill color are also different - a darker orangey-yellow contrasted with the greenish-yellow of a normal bird. This agrees with what is known about pink pigmentation in the Laridae; it is apparently systemic, and a result of eating foods with carotenoid pigments. While certain species such as Ross’s Gull and Roseate Tern show the pigmentation in most adults, the hooded gulls show the pigmentation less frequently, and I have been unable to find any previous descriptions of pink-tinged Ring-billed Gulls. Limited inquiries to other areas in North America suggest that the pink Ring-bills are localized to the Pacific Northwest.
In order to figure out where these birds are coming from, and perhaps what they are eating, I would like to collect reports of sightings of pink-tinged Ring-bills. Please send me your reports with date, location, number of pink individuals, and what percentage they represent of the entire flock of Ring-bills. Negative reports, i.e., of large flocks of Ring-bills with no pigment, would also be helpful.
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