– I regularly check the local beaches on Manasota Key to look at the birds to see what interesting species might be present. Strangely enough the public beaches often have considerable numbers of resting gulls and terns; my theory is that this is due to the reduced numbers of dogs there and the generally friendly nature of human bird interactions. Sometimes I might see an uncommon Bonaparte’s or lesser black backed gull or common tern mixed in with numbers of more common royal , Foster’s and Sandwich terns, black skimmers and laughing and ring-billed gulls.
On a recent visit to North Beach on Manasota Key I scanned the resting flock of birds and did not see anything of particular interest. But then suddenly I noticed that one of the wintering adult ring-billed gulls was different. It had some bands on its legs! The left leg had a red band with white numbers/letters (78B) and the right leg had a silver band with numbers (possibly 8660). This is the first time I have encountered a banded gull although I have previously encountered banded sanderlings, red knots, and snowy and Wilson’s plovers.
I was quite surprised that anyone would go to the trouble of banding ring-billed gulls since they are a common winter resident that breeds in the northern tier of the US and southern Canada. However with some research on line I found that ring-bills are being studied in Massachusetts, Quebec and Minnesota. The reason is that after near extirpation in the early 1900’s, they have rebounded due to general protection of migratory birds and are a nuisance in some areas ( https://files.dnr.state.mn.us/assistance/backyard/livingwith_wildlife/gulls/full_doc.pdf ). Our Manasota Key bird was banded in Minnesota and is now wintering in Florida for the same reasons we humans are here- the mild winter climate.
So when you go to the beach, be kind to the resting birds, enjoy their beauty, and watch out for those with bling.