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The head, neck and underparts are white; the relatively short bill is yellow with a dark ring; the back and wings are silver gray; and the legs are yellow. The eyes are yellow with red rims. This gull takes three years to reach its breeding plumage; its appearance changes with each fall moult.
Ring-billed Gulls often congregate around humans, at garbage dumps, parking lots, and freshly plowed fields. While the species is common on coastal beaches, particularly during winter, many Ring-billed Gulls lead inland lives, never setting eyes on the sea.