Ring-billed Gull with Pinkish Plumage Flush

This adult Ring-billed Gull has a light pinkish-orange plumage flush on the breast. Its legs were a brilliant yellow with touches of orange on the feet. Its bill was also an intense yellow, similar to the legs, and more vivid than the other Ring-billed Gulls. Oshawa Harbour on 17 February 2016. .


The article below explains that a carotenoid pigment called astaxanthin may be responsible for the pinkish plumage flush on the breasts of some gulls. Its presence in the plumage of gulls may be related to diet. Only a few Ring-billed Gulls exhibited this pigment, primarily those on the West Coast, where they eat a lot of salmon. Ring-billed Gulls with this pinkish plumage flush apparently increased after about 1998 when fish hatcheries added astaxanthin to the diets of juvenile salmon. Another explanation for the pink flush is environmental or physiological. The article does not discuss the coloration of bare parts, which in gulls intensifies with the onset of breeding plumage. In the above gull, it is brilliant, and this together with the pink plumage flush may be very attractive to a prospective mate.


Article: Astaxanthin is responsible for the pink plumage flush in Franklin's and Ring-billed Gulls


For comparison, a typical Ring-billed Gull with normal yellow bill and legs. Oshawa Harbour on 17 February 2016


Link to More about Pink Ring-billed Gulls