Lesser Black-backed Gull

The Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus) is a coastal breeding seabird with a wing-span of 135–150 cm and a body mass of 700-950g. In size, Lesser Black-backed Gulls overlap with Herring Gulls (Larus argentatus), but they are generally less bulky and less brutish, with proportionately narrower wings and longer legs; 25% smaller than Great Black-backed Gull1,2. Adults of the central European race have a dark grey mantle and back but are otherwise white with yellow feet and a yellow bill with a conspicuous red dot. Flight actions generally resemble those of other large gulls, but the beats of the relatively narrower wings are lighter and more elastic giving a more graceful and buoyant appearance.

Lesser Black-backed Gulls breed mainly within oceanic fringe of middle and higher latitudes of west Palearctic, in temperate and boreal zones. Generally, flat or sloping sites under close, fairly short vegetation preferred. Important colonies within The Netherlands are found in dune areas, in industrial areas, and locally on roofs in cities. Outside the breeding season, Lesser Black-backed Gulls spread widely over inland and marine habitats. Lesser Black-backed Gulls are migratory. Their winter range extends from Britain down to tropical areas (Mauritania, Gambia and Senegal), where it frequents lagoons, estuaries, harbours, and seashore sites, but is often occurring inland on landfill sites, in rice fields and in other habitats.

Lesser Black-backed Gulls are omnivorous; their diet includes fish (an important source being fishery waste discarded from trawlers), mammals, birds and invertebrates of suitable size including insects, earthworms and other prey, plant material, and rubbish3,4,5. Foraging methods include dipping-to-surface, surface-plunging, shallow-plunging, surface pecking, scavenging, and walking and pecking.


1BWPi 2004. The birds of the western Palearctic interactive. DVD Birdguides, Shrewsbury.

2Camphuysen C.J. 1995. Herring Gull Larus argentatus and Lesser Black-backed Gulls Larus fuscus feeding at fishing vessels in the breeding season: competitive scavenging versus efficient flying. Ardea 83(2): 365-380.

3Camphuysen C.J., Calvo B., Durinck J., Ensor K., Follestad A., Furness R.W., Garthe S., Leaper G., Skov H., Tasker M.L. & Winter C.J.N. 1995. Consumption of discards by seabirds in the North Sea. Final report to the European Comm., study contr. BIOECO/93/10, NIOZ-Report 1995-5, Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, Texel, 202+LVIIIpp.

4Camphuysen C.J., D.C. Camphuijsen & T.M. van Spanje 2006. Het voedsel van de Kleine Mantelmeeuwen van het Wormer- en Jisperveld. Limosa 78: 145-154.

5Camphuysen C.J., J. van Dijk, H. Witte & N. Spaans 2008. De voedselkeuze van Kleine Mantelmeeuwen en Zilvermeeuwen en andere indicaties die aanwijzingen geven over het ruimtegebruik van deze vogelsoorten in de Noord-Hollandse kustwateren. NIOZ Rapport 2008-12, Koninklijk Nederlands Instituut voor Zeeonderzoek, Texel, 69pp.