Great Black-backed Gull
Facts about the Great Black-backed Gull, it is the largest gull in the world. The Great Black-backed Gull was first identified by Linnaeus in 1758.
The Great Black-backed Gull is smaller than a pelican but the largest of the gulls. Also called the King of Gulls, the Great Black-backed Gull's scientific name is Larus marinus.
They are called Baagie in the Shetland Islands.
These Great Black-backed Gulls have white heads, white chests, black wings, and yellow bills. The Great Black-backed Gulls have dark eyes. No other gull in the Atlantic has the black coloring on the upper wings like this gull. Male Great Black-backed Gulls average a pound heavier than the females.
Juvenile Great Black-backed Gulls have grey brown mixed coloring on top and dark flight feathers. They darken to adult coloring by four years of age.
The lesser black backed gull looks similar, but it is smaller, with a lighter grey back and yellow legs. The herring gull has a much lighter colored under part and paler eyes.
The Great Black-backed Gulls follow fishing boats to steal bait and eat discards like fish guts. The Great Black-backed Gulls also steal food from other sea birds. Great Black-backed Gulls eat starfish, crabs, worms, and other invertebrates. The Great Black-backed Gulls also eat eggs, chicks, and even smaller adult birds. The Great Black-backed Gulls will hunt grebes and puffins. Great Black-backed Gulls have been known to eat smaller gulls like Herring Gulls. The Great Black-backed Gulls will feed on human garbage where it is available, but on average eat less garbage than other gulls. Great Black-backed Gulls will sometimes eat berries and insects. Great Black-backed Gulls are opportunistic feeders and apex predators, eating almost anything they can swallow. The Great Black-backed Gull readily catch fish close to the surface of the water, such as herring, cod, and capelin.
These Great Black-backed Gulls prefer to nest on piers and islands. The Great Black-backed Gulls nest in isolated pairs or colonies, sometimes nesting with other gulls like Herring Gulls. Their nests are located on the ground, usually on a rocky outcropping; the nest is lined with grass and sea weed.
The Great Black-backed Gull first breed at four to five years of age. Great Black-backed Gulls lay clutches of two to three eggs, which they incubate for a month. Both parents help feed the young. The young can fly at seven to eight weeks of age.
These Great Black-backed Gulls have a laughing cry. It is deeper than the call of other gulls.
These Great Black-backed Gulls prefer the coastline and water’s edge inland. The Great Black-backed Gull is found mostly on the north Atlantic coast of North America but found in Greenland and Iceland as well. A few Great Black-backed Gulls breed in northwest Russia.
The Great Black-backed Gull will forage offshore during the winter on the Continental Shelf. Those along the Baltic Sea prefer to stay along the ice’s edge.
These Great Black-backed Gulls are found along the North American Atlantic seaboard. In the summer, the Great Black-backed Gulls are found along the Canadian coast up to Nunavut breeding. In the winter, the Great Black-backed Gulls are found along the mid-Atlantic states and the Great Lakes. Great Black-backed Gulls move inland along the St. Lawrence River. The Great Black-backed Gulls migrate through the New England states.
The Great Black-backed Gull used to be threatened by the feather trade but is now abundant. Its numbers have been expanding since the 1930s.
The King Gull is an unrelated species native to South Africa.