Great Black-backed Gull

┬ęDerek Moore

Great black-backed gull

Scientific name: Larus marinus
The great black-backed gull is the largest gull in the world! Due to their size, they have few predators, but may occasionally make a tasty snack for white-tailed eagles, sharks and killer whales at sea.

Species information

Statistics

Length: 68-78cm
Wingspan: 1.5-1.6m
Weight: 1.7kg
Average lifespan: 14 years

Conservation status

Classified in the UK as Amber under the Birds of Conservation Concern 4: the Red List for Birds (2015).

When to see

January to December

About

The biggest gull in the world, the great black-backed gull is thick-set with a powerful beak. They are known for bullying other birds to steal food. Great black-backed gulls are happy to eat most things, but especially like shellfish, birds and even rabbits and can be seen swallowing them down in one!

How to identify

Gulls can be very difficult to tell apart, especially immature birds. Adult great black-backed gulls are much larger than other gulls. They are dark grey-black above and white below, with a white head (streaky during the winter) and black wingtips with white spots. They have pink legs, whereas the similar lesser black-backed gull has yellow legs.

Distribution

Widespread. Nests around the coast on clifftops, rooftops and islands.

Did you know?

The great black-backed gull is the largest gull in the world. Due to their size, they have relatively few predators, but may occasionally fall prey to white-tailed eagles, sharks and killer whales at sea.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts are working with fishermen, researchers, politicians and local people towards a Living Seas vision, where coastal and marine wildlife thrives alongside the sustainable use of the ocean's resources. Do your bit for our Living Seas by supporting your local Wildlife Trust.