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Great Black-backed Gull

Silhouette GullsGulls
Great Black-backed GullLarus marinus
  • ORDER: Charadriiformes
  • FAMILY: Laridae

Basic Description

The king of the Atlantic waterfront, the Great Black-backed Gull is the largest gull in the world, with a powerful build and a domineering attitude. They harry other birds to steal their food and even hunt adult birds such as grebes and puffins. Adults are handsome with broad black wings, gleaming white head, and big yellow bill. North American populations were once severely threatened by the feather trade, but numbers rebounded in the twentieth century and they are now a common East Coast sight.

More ID Info
image of range map for Great Black-backed Gull
Range map provided by Birds of the World
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Find This Bird

Along much of the East Coast of North America, you should be able to find Great Black-backed Gulls at beaches or fishing piers. They’ll be the largest gulls around—look for the huge size, big head and bill, and very broad wings. Adults have a very dark back and wings—very nearly black—making the identification fairly easy. Immatures are less obviously marked, but their large, bulky size and shape is the same as adults.

Other Names

  • Gavión Atlántico (Spanish)
  • Goéland marin (French)
  • Cool Facts