Lesser Black Backed Gull Profile: Facts, Traits, Range, Diet

Lesser black backed gull

The taxonomy of the Lesser Black-Backed Gull and its close relatives within the European herring gull/low black-backed gull complex is a subject of considerable debate among ornithologists. This group of gulls encompasses a diverse array of species, with varying degrees of genetic and morphological divergence. While some authorities recognize only two distinct species within this complex, others identify as many as eight separate species. This taxonomic ambiguity underscores the complex evolutionary history and genetic diversity present within this group of avian species.

Lesser Black-Backed Gull Profile: Facts, Traits, Range, Diet, Wings

The Lesser Black-Backed Gull, characterized by its intermediate size and distinctive plumage patterns, possesses specific morphological traits that distinguish it from other members of the gull complex. On average, these gulls measure between 51 to 64 centimeters in length, with a wingspan ranging from 124 to 150 centimeters. Their body weight typically falls within the range of 452 to 1100 grams, although variations may occur among individuals and populations. These measurements place the Lesser Black-Backed Gull within the medium to large size range among gull species, with its unique combination of physical attributes contributing to its evolutionary adaptation and ecological niche within its diverse range of habitats.

Ring Species Distribution

One fascinating aspect of the Lesser Black-Backed Gull complex is its ring species distribution around the Northern Hemisphere. Ring species are characterized by populations that exhibit continuous geographic variation, with interbreeding occurring between adjacent populations along a circular range. In the case of the Lesser Black-Backed Gull complex, populations of gulls form a ring-shaped distribution around the Northern Hemisphere, with subtle differences between adjacent forms. However, as the ring comes full circle, the end members of the distribution, including the herring gulls and Lesser Black-Backed Gulls, exhibit clear genetic and morphological distinctions, indicating the presence of separate species.

Habitat and Distribution

The Lesser Black-Backed Gull, scientifically known as Larus fuscus, is a prominent seabird species frequently spotted along the Atlantic coast of Europe. While they primarily breed in scattered colonies, they are also known to inhabit diverse habitats ranging from coastal regions to inland areas. During the winter months, these gulls embark on extensive migrations, journeying from their breeding grounds in regions like the British Isles to destinations as far south as South Africa. Although they are predominantly winter residents along the Atlantic coast of Europe, there have been occasional sightings suggesting their presence as winter visitors along the eastern coast of North America, possibly originating from breeding populations in Iceland.

Physical Characteristics

The Lesser Black-Backed Gull boasts distinctive physical features that set it apart from other gull species. With a robust build and a wingspan spanning several feet, these gulls command attention with their sizable presence. Their plumage typically exhibits a mottled appearance, with shades of grey and black adorning their backs and wings, while their underparts showcase a contrasting white hue. Additionally, their sleek beaks and piercing eyes contribute to their formidable appearance, allowing them to navigate their coastal habitats with precision and agility.

Behavior and Ecology

In addition to their striking physical attributes, Lesser Black-Backed Gulls are renowned for their remarkable behavior and ecological adaptations. These gulls are highly adaptable creatures, capable of thriving in a wide range of environments, from bustling coastal cities to remote island sanctuaries. They exhibit opportunistic feeding behaviors, scavenging for food along shorelines, foraging for fish and crustaceans in shallow waters, and even venturing into urban areas in search of discarded scraps. Despite their resilient nature, these gulls also face various challenges, including habitat loss, pollution, and human disturbance, highlighting the importance of conservation efforts to safeguard their populations and preserve their vital ecological roles.

Migration Patterns

One of the most fascinating aspects of Lesser Black-Backed Gulls is their annual migration patterns, which see them undertake epic journeys spanning thousands of miles. As winter approaches, these gulls embark on long-distance migrations from their breeding grounds in Europe to warmer wintering areas in regions like South Africa. This migratory behavior is driven by a combination of factors, including changes in daylight hours, temperature fluctuations, and the availability of food resources. During their migratory flights, these gulls rely on their keen navigational skills and remarkable endurance to traverse vast expanses of ocean and coastline, showcasing the extraordinary resilience and adaptability of these avian travelers.

Sexual Dimorphism

Male Lesser Black-Backed Gulls exhibit slight sexual dimorphism compared to females, with males being marginally smaller in size. On average, males weigh around 120 grams (4.2 ounces), while females have a slightly larger average weight of 128 grams (4.5 ounces). These subtle differences in size between the sexes contribute to their reproductive strategies and ecological roles within the species.

Morphological Measurements

Standard morphological measurements provide insight into the physical characteristics of the Lesser Black-Backed Gull. The wing chord, which measures the length of the extended wing, typically ranges from 38 to 45 centimeters (15 to 18 inches). The bill, used for feeding and other essential tasks, measures between 4.2 to 5.8 centimeters (1.7 to 2.3 inches) in length. Additionally, the tarsus, or lower leg bone, measures between 5.2 to 6.9 centimeters (2.0 to 2.7 inches). These measurements help ornithologists and researchers understand the anatomical features and adaptations of these birds about their behaviors and habitats.

Unique Features

The Lesser Black-Backed Gull possesses several distinctive features that set it apart from other gull species, including its larger cousin, the great black-backed gull. Notable among these features are the small, white “mirrors” present on the wings, which contrast with the dark plumage. Additionally, the bill of the Lesser Black-Backed Gull is adorned with yellowish-red spots, particularly during the breeding season, serving as a visual signal during courtship and parental care activities. These unique characteristics contribute to the species’ visual identification and behavioral ecology.

Plumage Variation

The adult Lesser Black-Backed Gull exhibits distinct plumage variations depending on the season. During the breeding season, adults display black or dark gray wings and a dark-colored back, providing camouflage in their coastal habitats. In contrast, the head and body are grayer in appearance during the winter months, with subtle differences distinguishing them from the great black-backed gulls. These seasonal changes in plumage play essential roles in thermoregulation, camouflage, and social signaling within the gull population. How AI, ChatGPT maximizes earnings of many people in minutes

Annual Molt

For adult Lesser Black-Backed Gulls, the annual molt initiates from May and extends through August, although completion may extend into November for some individuals. During this period, the birds undergo a process of shedding and regrowing feathers, which is essential for maintaining flight capabilities, insulation, and overall health. The molt represents a significant physiological and behavioral adaptation, allowing the gulls to replace worn-out feathers and adapt to changing environmental conditions throughout the year. Motivation – Mind – Success – Thinking – Productivity – Happiness

Reproductive Cycle

The Lesser Black-Backed Gull experiences a partial reproductive meltdown, a period of reduced reproductive activity, typically occurring between January and April. During this time, the gulls may exhibit decreased breeding behaviors, such as nest-building and courtship displays, as they prepare for the upcoming breeding season. This temporary decline in reproductive activity allows the birds to conserve energy and resources, ensuring optimal conditions for successful breeding and chick rearing later in the year. Business – Money Making – Marketing – E-commerce

Juvenile Plumage

Young Lesser Black-Backed Gulls display distinct plumage characteristics that differ from adults. Their upperparts are predominantly blackish-brown, with a mottled appearance, while their wingspan reflects their smaller size compared to mature individuals. It takes approximately four years for juvenile gulls to attain full maturity and acquire the adult plumage characteristic of the species. This gradual transition from juvenile to adult plumage is essential for survival and reproductive success, allowing the birds to blend effectively into their surroundings and participate in breeding activities as they reach sexual maturity. Health books, guides, exercises, habits, Diets, and more

Plumage Characteristics

Juvenile Lesser Black-Backed Gulls can be readily distinguished from juvenile Herring Gulls by their visually darker and discontinuous partial feathers. This distinction aids observers in accurately identifying and categorizing young gulls based on their plumage characteristics. While both species may exhibit similarities in their appearance during the juvenile stage, subtle differences in feather coloration and patterning provide valuable clues for species differentiation. Fitness – Meditation – Diet – Weight Loss – Healthy Living – Yoga


The call of the Lesser Black-Backed Gull is often described as a “ridiculous” cry, reminiscent of the vocalizations of the Herring Gull but with a slightly deeper pitch. This distinct vocalization serves various purposes, including communication within the gull colony, territorial defense, and signaling potential threats or sources of food. By interpreting these vocal cues, individuals can gain insights into the behavior and interactions of these seabirds in their natural habitat. RPM 3.0 – 60% CONVERSION & Money for Affiliate Marketing

Nesting Behavior

Lesser Black-Backed Gulls exhibit colonial nesting behavior, forming large breeding colonies along coastlines and lakeshores. They construct lined nests on land or elevated surfaces, such as rocky outcrops or artificial structures. Typically, each nesting pair lays three eggs, which are incubated by both parents until they hatch. This communal nesting strategy helps protect the eggs and chicks from potential predators and provides a supportive environment for successful reproduction within the colony. Bird accessories on Amazon

Dietary Habits

The diet of Lesser Black-Backed Gulls is diverse and includes a wide range of prey items obtained from various habitats. These opportunistic feeders consume fish, insects, crustaceans, worms, mollusks, seeds, berries, small mammals, eggs, and even scavenged carrion. Their adaptable feeding behavior allows them to exploit available food resources efficiently, whether foraging along the shoreline, scavenging in urban environments, or searching for prey in inland habitats. This dietary versatility contributes to the gulls’ overall survival and reproductive success in diverse ecosystems.

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