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Merlin Bird ID

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    Great Black-backed Gull

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    Great Black-backed Gull

    Larus 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 GullRange map provided by Birds of North AmericaExplore Maps

    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
    • Gaviota Mayor (Spanish)
    • Goéland marin (French)
    • Cool Facts