Family Gulls, Terns, Skimmers (Laridae)

Least Concern

Slaty-backed Gull (Larus schistisagus)


French: Goéland à manteau ardoisé German: Kamtschatkamöwe Spanish: Gaviota de Kamchatka

Larus schistisagus


, 1884,

Kamchatka, Russia


Considered closely related to L. argentatus by some authors, but appears to be a distinctive N Pacific species. Has hybridized occasionally with L. smithsonianus vegae and L. glaucescens#R. Proposed race ochotensis is a synonym of schistisagus. Monotypic.


NE Siberia from Cape Navarin and Kamchatka S to Vladivostok and Japan (Hokkaido and NE Honshu); also NW Alaska (breeding recorded in Aniktun I)#R. Winters from Bering Sea to Sea of Japan, rarely S to coasts of China and Taiwan#R#R.

Descriptive notes

55–68 cm; 1050–1695 g; wingspan 132–150 cm. Four-year gull. Breeding adult a typical large, white-headed, dark-mantled gull, with slightly greater sexual... read more


Resembles L. glaucescens. Long call is slower and deeper than in L. occidentalis. read more


Chiefly frequents inshore coastal waters but ascends rivers to feed on spawning salmon. ... read more

Food and feeding

Varied and opportunistic, according to availability. Mainly a wide diversity of fish and invertebrates (e.g. crabs, sea urchins... read more


Arrives at colonies in Apr in S of breeding range, early Jun in Sea of Okhotsk. Lays from late May in S to early Jun in N. Colonies number... read more


Many populations non-migratory, dispersing into Bering Sea and Sea of Japan; some migrate S towards... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). The global population is not known with any precision but there are 20th century estimates of c. 100,000 pairs. Estimates for... read more

Recommended citation

Burger, J., Gochfeld, M., Garcia, E.F.J. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Slaty-backed Gull (Larus schistisagus). 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 21 February 2020).