Slaty-backed Gull Profile: Facts, Traits, Range, Adaptations

Slaty-backed Gull

The slaty-backed gull, scientifically known as Larus schistisagus, is a magnificent bird characterized by its large size and distinctive appearance. This gull species primarily breeds along the northeastern coast of the Palearctic region, which includes areas like Russia and Japan. However, during nonbreeding seasons, it embarks on extensive migrations, traveling to various locations in search of food and favorable habitats. Despite its unique features, the slaty-backed gull bears resemblance to other gull species such as the western gull and the glaucous-winged gull. This article will give an overview of the Slaty-backed gull, including facts, descriptions, adaptations, identification, range, and range map. Keep reading.

The slaty-backed gull is primarily found in Northeast Siberia, ranging from Cape Navarin and Kamchatka in the north to Vladivostok and Japan (including Hokkaido and Northeast Honshu) in the south. Additionally, it has been recorded breeding in northwest Alaska, specifically on Aniktun Island. During the winter months, it can be observed in the Bering Sea and the Sea of Japan, occasionally venturing south to the coasts of China and Taiwan.

Slaty-backed Gull Profile: Facts, Traits, Range, Adaptations

The conservation status of the slaty-backed gull is of concern due to various threats to its populations, including habitat loss, pollution, and human disturbance. Efforts are underway to monitor and protect nesting sites, implement conservation measures, and raise awareness about the importance of preserving coastal ecosystems for gull species like the slaty-backed gull. By taking proactive steps to safeguard their habitats and reduce human impact, conservationists aim to ensure the long-term survival of this magnificent bird species for future generations to enjoy.

Measuring between 55 to 68 centimeters in length and weighing between 1050 to 1695 grams, the slaty-backed gull is a large bird with a wingspan ranging from 132 to 150 centimeters. As a four-year gull, its appearance varies depending on its age. Breeding adults typically exhibit a white head, a dark-mantled back, and a slightly more robust stature compared to non-breeding adults.

Physical Characteristics

The slaty-backed gull boasts a striking appearance, with a predominantly white head and body. Its back, however, displays a slate-gray or slaty coloration, which gives the bird its distinctive name. This contrast between the white and gray plumage makes the slaty-backed gull easily recognizable in its natural habitat. In addition to its coloring, this gull species features a robust build, with a sturdy beak and powerful wings that enable it to soar gracefully through the air and navigate across vast distances during its migratory journeys.

Adult slaty-backed gulls display distinct physical features that make them easily recognizable. Their dark gray back and wings contrast sharply with their intense pink legs, creating a striking appearance. One of the most notable characteristics is the presence of a large white “crescent” near the wingtips when the bird is perched. This white marking, formed by white tertial edges, serves as a prominent feature of the gull’s plumage.

Description of Appearance

When observing an adult slaty-backed gull, its distinctive features become apparent. The dark gray coloration of its back and wings provides effective camouflage against coastal environments, while its vibrant pink legs add a splash of color to its overall appearance. The large white crescent near the wingtips stands out prominently against the darker plumage, creating a visually striking contrast. These physical traits contribute to the gull’s ability to thrive in its coastal habitat and navigate its surroundings with ease.

Migration Patterns

During the breeding season, the slaty-backed gull is primarily found along the northeastern coast of the Palearctic region, where it establishes nesting sites and raises its young. However, as the seasons change, this gull embarks on remarkable migrations, traveling extensively across different regions. These migrations take the slaty-backed gull to various locations, including coastal areas, inland water bodies, and even urban environments, where it forages for food and seeks suitable habitats. These migratory movements play a crucial role in the survival and reproductive success of the slaty-backed gull population.

Alternate Names and Distribution

The slaty-backed gull, also known as the Pacific gull, shares its common name with a species found in the Southern Hemisphere, L. pacificus. Despite this overlap, the slaty-backed gull primarily inhabits the northern coastlines of the Palearctic region. While occasional sightings have been reported in North America and along the eastern coast of temperate Asia, its main distribution is concentrated in the northern regions.

Geographic Range

The slaty-backed gull is a prominent resident of the northern coastlines, where it thrives in a variety of coastal habitats. Its range extends across the northeastern coast of the Palearctic region, encompassing areas such as Russia and Japan. This gull species is distinguished by its thickset build and short-winged profile, setting it apart from similar Asian species.

Behavior and Habitat Preferences

In addition to its impressive physical attributes and migratory behavior, the slaty-backed gull exhibits unique behaviors and habitat preferences. During the breeding season, it typically seeks out coastal areas with rocky cliffs or sandy beaches, where it can build nests and raise its young. Outside of the breeding season, the slaty-backed gull may be found in a variety of habitats, including estuaries, marshes, and open waters. It is known for its opportunistic feeding habits, scavenging for food along shorelines and freshwater sources, as well as preying on small fish, crustaceans, and other marine life.

Adaptations for Survival

The unique physical characteristics of the slaty-backed gull are well-suited to its coastal lifestyle and foraging habits. Its thickset build and short-winged profile enable efficient flight and maneuverability in coastal environments. Additionally, the dark gray plumage provides effective camouflage against potential predators, while the vibrant pink legs serve as a visual cue for identifying individuals within the species. Overall, these adaptations contribute to the slaty-backed gull’s success in its northern coastal habitat.

Plumage Characteristics

Breeding adults of the slaty-backed gull exhibit distinctive white-headed plumage, while nonbreeding individuals may display varying degrees of brown streaking on the head and upper breast. Juvenile gulls are initially dark brown in coloration, gradually transitioning to the paler belly and gray back characteristic of adults over multiple plumage cycles. Despite these variations, all members of the species share a deep, resonant call described as “khaao.”

Size and Measurements

The slaty-backed gull ranks among the largest gull species, sharing its position with the yellow-footed gull as the fourth-largest globally. With a length ranging from 55 to 68.5 cm (21.7–27.0 in) and a wingspan spanning 132 to 160 cm (52–63 in), these gulls possess impressive physical dimensions. In terms of weight, individuals typically range from 1.05 to 1.7 kg (2.3–3.7 lb), contributing to their substantial presence in their coastal habitats.

Physical Measurements

General measurements of the slaty-backed gull provide further insights into its physical characteristics. The wing chord, a key indicator of wing size, typically measures between 40 and 48 cm (16–19 in). The bill, an essential tool for foraging and feeding, ranges from 4.8 to 6.5 cm (1.9–2.6 in) in length. Additionally, the tarsus, or lower leg segment, measures approximately 6 to 7.6 cm (2.4–3.0 in). These measurements reflect the gull’s well-adapted anatomy for coastal living and foraging activities.

Distinctive Plumage

The slaty-backed gull boasts a striking combination of colors in its plumage. While it sports a white head, stomach, and tail, its back and wings exhibit a dark slaty-gray hue, which is slightly darker than that of the western gull. Notably, a broad white trailing edge adorns the wings, adding to its distinctive appearance.

Wing Pattern and Eye Color

An intriguing feature of the slaty-backed gull is the “string of pearls” pattern adorning the undersides of its wings. This pattern, visible during flight, adds to the gull’s aesthetic appeal. Furthermore, its yellow eyes contribute to its overall striking appearance.

Unique Leg Characteristics

The slaty-backed gull’s legs are characterized by their pink coloration and relatively short length compared to similar gull species. This distinguishing trait, along with its stout body, sets it apart from its counterparts.

Notable Bill Features

A defining feature of the slaty-backed gull is its yellow bill, adorned with an orange-red subterminal spot near the tip. This spot plays a crucial role in regurgitative feeding, a feeding behavior observed in chicks. How AI, ChatGPT maximizes earnings of many people in minutes

Immature Plumage

In its immature stages, the slaty-backed gull’s plumage resembles that of the great black-backed gull but appears paler. This plumage can often be mistaken for that of the immature herring gull, adding to the challenge of identifying these birds in the field.

slaty-backed gull


While many populations of the slaty-backed gull are non-migratory, some individuals disperse into the Bering Sea and the Sea of Japan. Some populations migrate southward during certain times of the year, although the extent of this migration varies among different groups. Motivation – Mind – Success – Thinking – Productivity – Happiness

Status and Conservation

The slaty-backed gull is not globally threatened and is classified as Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Although the global population size is not precisely known, estimates from the 20th century suggest there may be around 100,000 pairs worldwide.


The call of the slaty-backed gull is reminiscent of the glaucous-winged gull. However, its long call is characterized by a slower and deeper tone compared to the western gull. This vocalization serves various communication purposes within the gull’s social interactions and mating rituals. Business – Money Making – Marketing – E-commerce


The slaty-backed gull is commonly found in coastal waters, particularly inshore areas, although it may also venture up rivers to feed on spawning salmon. During breeding season, it inhabits cliffs and rocky islands in northeastern Eurasia. In winter, it can be observed in the Bering Sea, Kamchatka, Japan, and the eastern coast of China. Occasionally, it wanders to the Aleutian Islands and the western coast of Alaska. Despite its coastal preference, there have been documented inland sightings in the United States.

Food and Feeding

The slaty-backed gull is opportunistic in its feeding habits, consuming a diverse range of prey depending on availability. Its diet primarily consists of various fish species and invertebrates such as crabs and sea urchins. It is known to forage extensively during the breeding season, often scavenging for food along the coastline and exploiting resources in its habitat. Health books, guides, exercises, habits, Diets, and more


Breeding colonies of the slaty-backed gull typically form in early June along the Sea of Okhotsk. Nesting activity commences from late May in the southern regions to early June in the northern areas of its range. The colonies can vary in size and are established on cliffs and rocky islands, providing suitable nesting sites and protection from predators.

Habitat and Distribution

The slaty-backed gull has a wide distribution, spanning an estimated 100,000 to 1,000,000 square kilometers globally. Its range includes regions such as Japan, China, Korea, the Russian Federation, the United States, and Canada. This bird typically inhabits rocky areas and various marine ecosystems, including neritic, intertidal, and coastal marine environments. Fitness – Meditation – Diet – Weight Loss – Healthy Living – Yoga

Population and Conservation Status

The global population of the slaty-backed gull is estimated to range from 25,000 to 100,000 individuals. Currently, there are no significant signs of population decline or threats that would warrant its inclusion on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Therefore, the conservation status of the slaty-backed gull is assessed as Least Concern.

Alternate Names

The slaty-backed gull is commonly known as the Pacific gull, although this name also refers to a separate species found in the southern hemisphere, known as Larus pacificus. RPM 3.0 – 60% CONVERSION & Money for Affiliate Marketing

Breeding Records

The first confirmed breeding record of the slaty-backed gull in Alaska and North America was documented on Aniktun Island in July 1996. This marked a significant milestone in understanding the distribution and breeding habits of this species in the region.

Global Breeding Population

The worldwide breeding population of the slaty-backed gull is estimated to be approximately 131,300 pairs. This provides valuable insight into the overall population size and breeding dynamics of this bird species across its range. Bird accessories on Amazon

Collective Nouns

Like many other species of birds, a group of gulls can be referred to by various collective nouns. Some of the terms used to describe a gathering of gulls include a “flotilla,” “gullery,” “screech,” “scavenging,” and “squabble” of gulls. These colorful descriptors capture the social dynamics and behaviors of these birds when they congregate in large numbers.

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