Great Black-backed Gull

Larus marinus

  1. Wildlife
  2. Birds
  3. Gulls and seabirds
  4. Great Black-backed Gull


The great black-backed gull is mainly found around the coast during the breeding season but can be seen inland during winter at rubbish tips and reservoirs. A very large, powerful gull, it is obviously larger than the herring gull. Like other gulls it is omnivorous, feeding on shellfish, birds and carrion but will scavenge and pirate food too, chasing smaller birds away from their own prey.

How to identify

Gulls can be very difficult to tell apart, especially immature birds. Adult great black-backed gulls are much larger than the others, dark grey-black above and white below, with a white head (streaky during the winter) and black wingtips with white spots. They have pink legs, whereas the similar lesser black-backed gull has yellow legs.

Where to find it

Widespread. Nests around the coast on cliff tops, rooftops and islands.


When to find it

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

How can people help

To ensure that we keep populations of great black-backed gulls and other seabirds healthy, it is important that our marine environment is managed properly. The Wildlife Trusts are working with fishermen, researchers, politicians and local people towards a vision of 'Living Seas' where marine wildlife thrives. This work has recently had a massive boost with the passing of the Marine Bill, promising sustainable development of the UK's marine environment. Do your bit for our Living Seas by supporting your local Wildlife Trust.

Species information

Common name
Great Black-backed Gull
Latin name
Larus marinus
Gulls and seabirds
Length: 68-78cm Wingspan: 1.5m Weight: 1.7kg Average Lifespan: up to 23 years
Conservation status
Classified in the UK as an Amber List species under the Birds of Conservation Concern review.