Great Black-backed Gull. Photographs taken at Wind Point and Shoop Park in Racine County, Wisconsin on November 30, 2013.
Great Black-backed Gull
Binomial name: Larus marinus
Category: Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers
Description: The largest member of the gull family. White feathers with grayish-black backs and wings. The wings have white wingtips. Pink legs, strong yellow or pinkish-yellow bill.
Size: 25” – 31” long, 4’ 10” – 5’ 7” wingspan
Weight: 1.7 lbs. – 5.1 lbs.
Habitat: Rocky and sandy coastal shorelines, ponds, lakes, and marshes
Diet: 50% or more of their diet is often garbage or human refuse. They also eat fish, insects, crabs, smaller birds, chick eggs, and land animals such as rats.
Nesting: Both parents build several nests on or near stacks of rocks or fallen logs. The female chooses the best one, and it is lined with grass, seaweed, and other vegetation or garbage such as rope and pieces of plastic. The female will lay a clutch of 3 eggs and both parents incubate them for about 28 days. Both parents raise the hatchlings, take turns finding food. The breeding pair will reuse the same nesting site year after year.
Notes: Great Black-backed Gull feathers were used in clothing while feathers were fashionable in the late 1800’s. Once the trend ended, populations began to increase. This trend continues with the increase in refuse sites across North America and Europe.
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