- ORDER: Charadriiformes
- FAMILY: Laridae
The rather graceful Lesser Black-backed Gull stands apart from other large gulls, such as Herring and Great Black-backed, by its smaller size, long, slender wings, and bright yellow legs. Despite being common in Eurasia, the Lesser Black-backed Gull was once a great rarity in North America, and still has not been confirmed to be nesting here despite becoming relatively common as a winter visitor. Like other large gulls, it eats almost anything (but especially fish, shellfish, and crustaceans) and can be found along shorelines and at landfills.More ID Info
Find This Bird
In North America, look for Lesser Black-backed Gulls on the coasts of the mid-Atlantic states and Florida during the nonbreeding season. They gather by the dozens or even hundreds on some beaches; check eBird maps for a snapshot of local gathering places. Look for them on low-sloped beaches rich in invertebrates, and be prepared to sort through a large flock of other gull species before picking out a fairly large, long-winged individual with (in adults) yellow legs.
- Gaviota Sombría (Spanish)
- Goéland brun (French)
- Cool Facts
- The only known nests of Lesser Black-backed Gull in North America have occurred on Appledore Island, Maine, where one Lesser paired with a Herring Gull and produced hybrid young from 2007–2011, a pattern that has become more common since 2015. But as of 2019, there have been no reports of pure pairs of Lesser Black-backed Gulls nesting in North America.
- The Lesser Black-backed Gull is divided into several subspecies that differ in the darkness of the back. Nearly all individuals that reach North America are of the graellsii subspecies that breeds in Iceland, Britain, and western Europe. It is the palest of the forms; its back is a lighter gray than the black wingtips.
- At a Lesser Black-backed Gull breeding colony, immatures, and nonbreeding adults form “clubs” near the colony, where they spend time "loafing," resting, and preening.
- The oldest recorded Lesser Black-backed Gull in North America was a male that was at least 9 years, 3 months old when he was resighted in the wild in South Carolina in 2014. He had been banded in Maine in 2008. In Europe, the oldest known Lesser Black-backed Gull was 26 years old.