Larus marinus


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Larus marinus
Species Authority: Linnaeus, 1758
Common Name(s):
English Great Black-backed Gull, Greater Black-backed Gull
French Goéland marin

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2012-05-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Ekstrom, J., Butchart, S., Malpas, L., Calvert, R.
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be increasing, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species can be found breeding on coasts from the extreme north-west of Russia, along Scandinavia, on Baltic Sea coasts, on the coasts of north-western France, the United Kingdom and Ireland, across the north Atlantic in Iceland and southern Greenland and on the Atlantic coasts of Canada and the USA down to North Carolina. Individuals breeding in harsher environments will migrate south, wintering on northern coasts of Europe from the Baltic Sea to southern Portugal, and down North America as far south as the Carribean (del Hoyo et al. 1996).
Anguilla; Antigua and Barbuda; Austria; Barbados; Belgium; Belize; Bermuda; Bulgaria; Canada; Cuba; Czech Republic; Denmark; Dominica; Dominican Republic; Estonia; Faroe Islands; Finland; France; Germany; Gibraltar; Greece; Greenland; Guadeloupe; Haiti; Iceland; Ireland; Italy; Latvia; Lebanon; Lithuania; Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of; Martinique; Montserrat; Netherlands; Norway; Poland; Portugal; Puerto Rico; Romania; Russian Federation; Saint Kitts and Nevis; Saint Lucia; Saint Pierre and Miquelon; Saint Vincent and the Grenadines; Slovakia; Spain; Sweden; Switzerland; United Kingdom; United States
Algeria; Aruba; Bahamas; Belarus; Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Croatia; Curaçao; Cyprus; Egypt; Hungary; India; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Israel; Kazakhstan; Luxembourg; Mauritania; Montenegro; Morocco; Serbia (Serbia); Sint Maarten (Dutch part); Slovenia; Syrian Arab Republic; Tunisia; Turkey; Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of; Virgin Islands, U.S.
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population Trend: Increasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Behaviour The migratory movements of this species vary throughout its range, with high Arctic breeders migrating south for the winter but southern breeders only dispersing short distances (del Hoyo et al. 1996). The breeding season starts from early-April or mid-May with the species nesting in solitary pairs amidst colonies of other species or in small mixed-species colonies (del Hoyo et al. 1996) of up to 50-100 individuals (Richards 1990) (e.g. with Herring Gull Larus argentatus) (del Hoyo et al. 1996) in favourable locations (Richards 1990). The autumn migration occurs between July and November (peaking October-November) and the return migration to the breeding grounds occurs between March and April (Olsen and Larsson 2003). Outside of the breeding season the species is largely gregarious (Olsen and Larsson 2003). Habitat The species inhabits rocky or sandy coasts, estuaries and inshore and offshore waters, breeding on vegetated islands, dunes, flat-topped stacks, rocky shores (del Hoyo et al. 1996), flat beaches (Snow and Perrins 1998) and islands in saltmarsh (del Hoyo et al. 1996). The species may also breed on undisturbed inland sites including islets in large freshwater lakes and rivers (Snow and Perrins 1998), fields and open moorland (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Diet The species is omnivorous and opportunistic, its diet consisting of fish, adult and young birds, birds eggs, mammals (e.g. rabbits, lemmings, rats and mice), insects, marine invertebrates (e.g. molluscs), carrion and refuse (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Breeding site The nest is a shallow cup constructed from grass, moss and seaweed and is positioned on sand, grass or bare rock substrates on vegetated islands, rocky ridges and outcrops, dunes (del Hoyo et al. 1996), flat beaches (Snow and Perrins 1998) and islands in saltmarsh among scrub (del Hoyo et al. 1996). The species may also nest in undisturbed inland sites such as islets in large freshwater lakes and rivers (Snow and Perrins 1998), fields and open moorland (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Management information The breeding densities of this species in the Baltic Sea were unaffected by the removal of the introduced nest predator American mink Neovison vison from small offshore breeding islands (Nordstrom et al. 2003). The species is considered to be a threat to other bird species due to its predatory and opportunistic diet (del Hoyo et al. 1996).
Systems: Terrestrial; Marine

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Utilisation The species is hunted for sport in Denmark (Bregnballe et al. 2006).

Citation: BirdLife International 2012. Larus marinus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <>. Downloaded on 29 August 2015.
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