Great Black-backed Gull

Larus marinus

Order

CHARADRIIFORMES

Family

Gulls, Terns, Skimmers (Laridae)

Code 4

GBBG

Code 6

LARMAR

ITIS

ILLUSTRATION

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PHOTOS

CONSERVATION STATUS

Least Concern

The Great Black-backed Gull is a very large species which prefers breeding grounds on coasts and islands of the North Atlantic, including Europe and North America. Most of these birds will reside in their habitat all year long, but some will migrate south or inland to large bodies of water. Nests are built on the ground, and usually atop rocky soil. This species is carnivorous, and hunts almost any prey smaller than itself. They may also scavenge or steal food from other birds, and will follow Humpback Whales to catch fish driven to the surface of the ocean by the huge animal. The conservation rating for this species is Least Concern.

IBIRD EXPLORER GENERAL

PHOTO SHARING AND DISCUSSION

BIRD PHOTOGRAPHY

SUMMARY

Overview

Great Black-backed Gull: World's largest gull. White head, black upperparts, white underparts, large yellow bill with red spot on lower mandible, pale-eyed with red orbital ring, pink legs, feet. Flight is direct and powerful with deep, slow wing beats. Soars on thermals or updrafts.


Range and Habitat

Great Black-backed Gull: Breeds in northeastern North America from North Carolina to Newfoundland and Labrador and the west coast of Greenland. Spends summers farther down the Atlantic Coast to Florida and may wander inland to the Great Plains. Also found in northwestern Europe. Found in various coastal habitats: rocky and sandy coasts, inland estuaries, and wetlands.

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Great Black-backed Gull SONGS AND CALLS

Great Black-backed Gull L1

Long calls and "ha-ha-ha" calls given during a food conflict.

Great Black-backed Gull L2

Higher-pitched excited calls.

Similar Sounding


Voice Text

"gowl", "gawp", "hah-hah-hah", "owk-owk", "keeeeeeee-aaaahh"

INTERESTING FACTS

  • The Great Black-backed Gull was originally described by Linnaeus in his 18th century work, Systema Naturae, and it still bears its original name of Larus marinus.
  • In winter, large numbers eat fish driven to the surface by humpback whales. They can swallow a puffin or a small wild duck whole.
  • It's feathers were used for fashionable clothing in the 1800s. After the demise of the feather trade in the early 1900s, their population increased.
  • A group of gulls has many collective nouns, including a "flotilla", "gullery", "screech", "scavenging", and "squabble" of gulls.

SIMILAR BIRDS

RANGE MAP NORTH AMERICA

About this North America Map

This map shows how this species is distributed across North America.

FAMILY DESCRIPTION

TERMINOLOGY

CREDITS

Author

John Schwarz

Artist

Yury Lisyak

HELP ME IDENTIFY A BIRD

BACKYARD BIRDING

BIRDS AND BIRDING

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UnderpartsX

Belly, undertail coverts, chest, flanks, and foreneck.

UpperpartsX
Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
Lower mandibleX
The lower part of the bill.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X