Family Gulls, Terns, Skimmers (Laridae)

Least Concern

Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)


French: Goéland marin German: Mantelmöwe Spanish: Gavión atlántico

Larus marinus


, 1758,

Gotland, Sweden


Possible hybridization with L. hyperboreus recorded#R. Monotypic.


Great Lakes, E Canada and E USA S to North Carolina; S Greenland; Iceland, Faeroes, British Is, W France and Scandinavia E to at least White Sea, including Bear I and Spitsbergen; found breeding at least occasionally in N Spain (Galicia) since 2005#R and also in S Morocco (Khnifiss Lagoon) since 2009#R. Winters in E North America S to Florida, rarely to West Indies; in Eurasia S to Iberia, occasionally reaching Morocco.

Descriptive notes

68–79 cm; 1435–2272 g; wingspan 152–167 cm. Four-year gull; however, the moult sequence is slow and some take up to six years to attain full adult plumage,... read more


All calls are very deep, hoarser and slower than in L. argentatus, including a shorter and... read more


Frequents rocky or sandy coasts, estuaries and the open sea; occurs locally on larger inland waters... read more

Food and feeding

Omnivorous and opportunistic. Frequent dietary items include fish, adult and young birds, birds’ eggs, mammals, marine... read more


Lays from early Apr in S to mid-May in N. Usually nests in small colonies, near or intermingled with L. argentatus. Solitary pairs... read more


Variable. High Arctic birds migrate south whereas southern breeders disperse shorter distances.... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). The global population is estimated at 283,000–403,000 pairs and shows a declining trend overall after a period of sometimes... read more

Recommended citation

Burger, J., Gochfeld, M., Kirwan, G.M., Christie, D.A. & Garcia, E.F.J. (2020). Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 20 February 2020).