Larus fuscus - Lesser black-backed gull:

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Summary Information
Living Organisms / Animalia / Craniata / Aves / Ciconiiformes / Laridae / Larus / Species

This section is currently predominantly used in Wildpro to link different data types and demonstrate inter-relationships. Although it identifies that taxonomic interrelationships of species (see "header") it does not currently contain detailed information on the bird species itself. As Wildpro is developed, we will gradually convert these pages into full Species pages.

The taxonomy of birds is still under review and the A World Checklist of Birds by Burt L. Monroe, Jr and Charles G. Sibley (B89) has been chosen as the primary reference. The taxonomic structure will be amended when new editions or complete references are identified by the scientific world as the recognized primary references for taxonomy.

Alternative Names
  • Larus fuscus graellsi - Dark-backed gull (B89)
  • Larus fuscus fuscus - Lesser black-backed gull (B89)
Distribution Northern Eurasia; winters to Africa, southern United States. (B89)
  • London: In the London Area, a common visitor, most regularly seen in autumn and winter. Also increasingly breeding in London. (J322.65.w1)
Habitat Breeding - "Usually coastal islands or dunes, some inland on moorland." (B163
Further Information Appearance: Distinguished from Larus marinus - Great black backed gull by smaller size, slimmer body, longer more pointed wings and thinner bill, also in the adult yellow rather than pink legs, smaller white tips to the primaries and a smaller white patch ("mirror") on the wing tip. (B164
  • Length: 48-56 cm (B164)
  • Wingspan: 117-134 cm (B164)
  • Bill: Yellow with a red spot near the tip (in juvenile black, gradually changes colour). (B164)
  • Eyes: Yellow, with red orbital ring (in juvenile, iris is brown). (B164)
  • Feet and legs: Yellow (pink in the juvenile). (B164)
  • Plumage: White, with back and wings dark slate grey, wingtips black with small marking of white (B17, B164)
  • Adult in summer: 
    • Head and neck white. Dorsal dark grey, with wings dark grey, leading and trailing edge white, wing tip black with primaries tipped in white so incomplete white trailing edge, and small white "mirror" tail white. Ventral white. (B17, B164)
  • Adult in winter:
    • Similar to summer except head and neck white with grey streaks. (B164)
  • Juvenile/Immature: Brownish, mottled, with gradually developing adult plumage over three years. (B164)
  • food - omnivorous
  • feeding behaviour - "on water uses a variety of feeding methods, including plunging, dipping to water surface from flight, also walks across fields, scavenges extensively and obtains food by pirating other gulls". (B163).


  • location and structure - ground nesting, scrape
  • nest building - male and female
  • breeding structure - monogamous


  • markings - Patterned
  • number of eggs - 3 (1-2)
  • broods - 1 brood
  • incubation - by male and female; 24-27 days


  • development - semi precocial, stays in nest, fed by parents
  • parental caring for young - by male and female
  • fledging - 30-40 days

(B163, B164)

Organisations (UK Contacts):

Electronic Library (further reading):

General Legislation:

  • This species is listed on Schedule 2 - Part 2 (Birds which may be killed or taken outside the close season, 1 February to 31 August except where indicated otherwise: Notes on the revised schedules state "Birds which may be killed or taken by authorised persons: This section has been replaced by General Licences with the same effect.") of the LUK2 - Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 of the United Kingdom. (W5.Oct01)

Individual techniques:

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