Great Black-Backed Gull
This is the big gull of the North Atlantic found on most European coasts (not the Mediterranean), Southern Greenland, and Eastern North America from Labrador to Florida. Does not breed in the Southern part of this area.
The biggest birds are very much bigger than Herring Gulls but the Greaters are variable and the smallest ones are only 5- 10% bigger. Adults are white gulls with a black mantle and wings (with prominent white tips) and a massive yellow bill with blood red lower mandible tip, legs are flesh coloured.
This is a seriously malevolent looking bird with a thin red eye-ring round a lemon yellow eye. These birds will, in the breeding season, patrol colonies of other seabirds to scavenge, to pillage and to kill. Puffins may be flown down, caught in flight and neatly skinned. They also take carrion and almost anything we would consider edible (and a lot more!). Immatures are much like other large gulls but bulk, big bill and flight characteristics help. In Britain and Ireland some 23,000 pairs breed.
A very big gull with black mantle and wings when adult.
Length 720 mm Closed wing 490 mm Weight 1600 gms
A Bird On! Sketch by Chris Mead
Copyright © 1996 by Jacobi Jayne & Company and Chris Mead