Nature's Focus: The Great Black-backed Gull

The Great Black-Backed Gull
All Photos by Thomas W. Gorman

By: Thomas W. Gorman

    In a normal situation, the average person who spends time at our coastline, whether they are there to swim, sun or simply walk the beaches, they will easily notice a flurry of gulls either flying about, or walking the beaches to gather food. The more common reaction is that they will simply observe the gulls in the general sense.  It really does not matter whether it is a Herring Gull, Laughing Gull or even the Ring-billed Gull because people are so accustomed to seeing them flying about, and they also see them when a group of people pack up their belongings and leave the beach for the day, the gulls then will hurriedly move in to see if any food was left behind.

    One species which is normally present, but not as sociable as the previously mentioned gulls, is one called the Great Black-backed Gull.  This gull is actually the largest in the world and is generally a coastal species, but it has been observed during the winter as far inland as the eastern Great Lakes region.

    The Great Black-backed Gull is easily identifiable by its bright white head and underparts, with a soft black to slate color patterned back and wings.  In flight the wings reveal a white leading and trailing edge, and when at rest the wing tips will show white markings.

    The Great Black-backed Gull is a coastal species and can be found at nearly all of our beaches and salt marshes.  Their food sources are numerous and consist of carrion, fish, and crustaceans to name a few.  Of course as with most gull species it can also be seen as it scavenges through our local garbage dumps.

Previous Stories:

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  • Nature's Focus: The American Oystercatcher
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  • Nature's Focus: First time sightings

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