Barn Owl
Blackbird
Blackcap
Black-headed Gull
Black Redstart
Blue Tit
Brambling
Bullfinch
Buzzard
Carrion Crow
Chaffinch
Chiffchaff
Coal Tit
Collared Dove
Common Gull
Coot
Crested Tit
Crossbill
Cuckoo
Dunnock
Feral Pigeon
Fieldfare
Garden Warbler
Goldcrest
Goldfinch
Goshawk
Great Black-backed Gull
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Great Tit
Greenfinch
Green Woodpecker
Grey Heron
Grey Partridge
Grey Wagtail
Hawfinch
Herring Gull
Hoopoe
House Martin
House Sparrow
Jackdaw
Jay
Kestrel
Kingfisher
Lapwing
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
Lesser Whitethroat
Linnet
Little Owl
Long-eared Owl
Long-tailed Tit
Magpie
Mallard
Marsh Tit
Meadow Pipit
Mistle Thrush
Moorhen
Nightingale
Nuthatch
Peregrine
Pheasant
Pied Flycatcher
Pied Wagtail
Quail
Raven
Red Kite
Red-legged Partridge
Redpoll
Redstart
Redwing
Reed Bunting
Ring-necked Parakeet
Robin
Rook
Sand Martin
Serin
Short-eared Owl
Siskin
Skylark
Song Thrush
Sparrowhawk
Spotted Flycatcher
Starling
Stock Dove
Stonechat
Swallow
Swift
Tawny Owl
Treecreeper
Tree Sparrow
Turtle Dove
Waxwing
Whinchat
Whitethroat
Willow Tit
Willow Warbler
Wood Pigeon
Wren
Yellow Wagtail
Yellowhammer

British Garden Birds Logo Home page. Bird identification guide. Site map. Discussion board. Articles on birds and birdwatching. Having problems? Search this website. Photograph album. Guestbook for your comments. News about the birds in my garden. Contact us. Test your identification skills. About this website. Field trip reports. Links to other websites. Awards won by this website. British Garden Birds Navigation Map

Great Black-backed Gull

Great Black-backed Gull Great Black-backed Gull Both Sexes
Black back and wings, white head and body. Pink legs. Yellow bill with red spot near tip.
Distribution map - when and where you are most likely to see the species.
Larus marinus
Length: 64-78 cm (25-31")
Wing Span: 150-170 cm (60-67")
Weight: 1.1-1.2 kg (2½-2¾ lb)  
Breeding Pairs: 25 000
Present: All Year
Status: Amber

Description

The Great Black-backed Gull is the largest gull found in Britain and, as well as being well-built, it has a powerful bill.

The head and body are white while the wings and back are black. The wings are edged with white. The bill is yellow with a red spot, like the Lesser Black-backed Gull and Herring Gull. The eye is yellow with a red orbital ring. The legs and feet are pink; these facts together with the size of the bird are distinguishing features.

In the wintertime the head is lightly streaked with grey.

Juveniles and first winter immature birds have chequered grey-brown plumage and black bills. By their second year, the bird still has immature plumage but only the tip of the bill is black. The black back and wings are gradually acquired from the third year and the bird reached adulthood in its fifth year.

The British population more or less doubles during the winter as resident birds are joined by birds from Norway.

In flight, the wing beat is slow and heavy.

Voice

Choose from Quicktime and mp3. Call
  Quicktime mp3

The Great Black-backed Gull's call is a chuckling "uk uk uk".

Feeding

Their diet comprises birds, eggs, fish, crustaceans, road kills and refuse, which they will "catch" themselves or steal from other birds.

Nesting

This gull breeds in colonies but also as solitary pairs, usually on cliff tops, islands, and estuaries, but also moor land. The nest is built by both birds and is a large mound of sticks, seaweed, grass, and feathers. The solitary pairs often prey on other seabirds.

The eggs are buff to olive coloured with dark brown blotches, and are incubated by both birds. The young are fed and cared for by both birds until they can fly at about 7 weeks old.

Breeding Data
Breeding Starts Number of Clutches Number of Eggs Incubation (days) Fledge (days)
April-May 1 2-4 26-30 c. 50

Movements

Most of the British breeding population is resident but is joined by immigrants from Scandinavia from late summer to late Winter.

Conservation

For many years up to about 1875 the Great Black-backed Gull was persecuted and came very close to extinction. Today, the gull is generally thriving owing to better legal protection, but moderate declines have been reported in some areas and it is now an amber list species of conservation concern.

My Garden

Great Black-backed Gulls are occasionally seen flying over our garden, especially during the winter months, but have never been seen in the gardens or on the roof tops.


Last revision: 21 Feb 2015
Copyright © David Gains 1999-2017.
Fatbirder's Top 1000 Birding Websites