Great Black-backed Gull

Great black backed gull

Great Black-backed Gulls are recognized as the world’s largest gulls. They also have the distinction of being the only large gulls with black coloration on their wings and backs in the North Atlantic. 

These gulls have white heads and underparts, yellow eyes rimmed with red, large, yellow bills with a red spot, and pink legs. 

Juveniles take four years to reach their mature form and start streaked with gray-brown and with black bills.

  • Larus marinus
  • Length: 25 – 31 in (64 – 79 cm) 
  • Weight: 64 oz (1814 g)
  • Wingspan: 60 – 65 in (152 – 165 cm)


Great Black-backed Gulls are year round residents of eastern North America and western Europe.

Habitat And Diet

You can find Great Black-backed Gulls in many coastal environments like rocky and sandy beaches and estuaries. They also move further inland where there are large bodies of water like lakes, ponds, and rivers.

The primary food of Great Black-backed Gulls is fish but they are opportunistic feeders and will eat anything they can swallow from crabs to eggs and even other birds. 

They are very predatory and will target seabird eggs, nestlings, and fledglings. They will also hunt adult birds smaller than them like ducks, eiders, and cormorants. They will pursue them to exhaustion and continuously stab them with their bill.

Great Black-backed Gull Calls:


Nests of Great Black-backed Gulls are built on the ground but against windbreaks. Several nests or scrapes are created by the breeding couple lining them with grasses, feathers, rope, and other materials and the female gets to decide where to lay her eggs. When in urban environments, nests are often reused repeatedly. 

The female lays three eggs and incubation begins when all three eggs have been laid. Both parents take part in the incubation which lasts around a month. Young may leave the nest after fifty days but will remain with their parents for as long as six months.

Fun Fact:

Great Black-backed Gulls are known for having long lives. The oldest wild Great Black-backed Gull that has been recorded is 27.1 years.