Lesser Black-backed Gull

Larus fuscus

Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus)

A very handsome gull with slate-grey back plumage, pure white under belly, and black and white wingtips. It has a bright yellow bill with a red spot. In summer it has bright yellow legs and a white head, where in winter it has dull yellow legs  and a densely streaked grey-brown head. Juveniles have mottled dark brown plumage, and have black bills. Similar to Herring Gull (Larus argentatus), Yellow-legged Gull and the Great Black-backed Gull.

It feeds on fish, worms, molluscs, and human waste. It also feeds on other seabirds in summer. The nest is made up of a pile of grass on the ground, the female laying 2 or 3 eggs in 1 brood in May. They can live for up to 15 years.

Seen all year round. It breeds on cliffs, islands, moorland, and rooftops. In winter it is found at tips, reservoirs, inland lakes, beaches, and on farmland. Most migrate south to Africa, yet many remain in western Europe. Having increasing their numbers since a decline in the 19th century from persecution, they are again suffering a decline so they are on the RSPB amber list. The UK is home to 40% of the European population, and many are found along the coastlines and on  inland moors in summer. They are becoming increasingly common in urban areas, and even inland locations like the West Midlands. In winter it is mainly found from southern Scotland southwards, on farmland, rubbish tips and reservoirs.

Photograph of Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus), taken December 2013, nature reserve Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2013. Camera used Nikon Coolpix P500.

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