Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus


Taxonomic source(s)
AERC TAC. 2003. AERC TAC Checklist of bird taxa occurring in Western Palearctic region, 15th Draft. Available at: # _the_WP15.xls#.
Cramp, S. and Simmons, K.E.L. (eds). 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
del Hoyo, J., Collar, N.J., Christie, D.A., Elliott, A. and Fishpool, L.D.C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Volume 1: Non-passerines. Lynx Edicions BirdLife International, Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge, UK.

IUCN Red list criteria met and history
Red List criteria met
Critically Endangered Endangered Vulnerable
- - -

Red List history
Year Category Criteria
2018 Least Concern
2016 Least Concern
2012 Least Concern
2009 Least Concern
2008 Least Concern
2004 Least Concern
2000 Lower Risk/Least Concern
1994 Lower Risk/Least Concern
1988 Lower Risk/Least Concern
Species attributes

Migratory status full migrant Forest dependency Does not normally occur in forest
Land mass type Average mass -

Estimate Data quality
Extent of Occurrence breeding/resident (km2) 33,500,000 medium
Extent of Occurrence non-breeding (km2) 27,900,000 medium
Number of locations -
Severely Fragmented -
Population and trend
Value Data quality Derivation Year of estimate
No. of mature individuals poor estimated 2012
Population trend Unknown suspected -
Decline (3 years/1 generation past) - - -
Decline (5 years/1 generation past) - - -
Decline (10 years/1 generation past) - - -
Decline (10 years/3 generation future) - - -
Decline (10 years/3 generation past and future) - - -
Number of subpopulations - - -
Percentage in largest subpopulation - - -
Generation length (yrs) 12 - - -

Population justification: The European population is estimated at 118,000-133,000 pairs, which equates to 237,000-266,000 mature individuals or 360,000-400,000 individuals (BirdLife International 2015). Combining the European population estimate with that for the north-west Atlantic population in Wetlands International (2015) gives a global estimate of 690,000-940,000 individuals. It is therefore placed in the band 500,000-999,999 individuals.

Trend justification: Historically, the species underwent a marked population increase and range expansion southwards between the 1930s and 1975, as well as spreading north to Spitsbergen. In the Nearctic, the breeding range has also extended southwards since the mid-20th century; it first bred in Maine in 1928, Massachusetts in 1931, New York in 1940, the Great Lakes in 1954, and New Jersey in 1966. In New England the population increased from 30 pairs in 1930 to 12,400 in 1972 (Burger et al. 2018). Over the last 50 years, the population in North America has been decreasing at about 29.7% over three generations (36 years), but the estimate yields large uncertainties (data from Christmas Bird Count, T. Meehan in litt. 2018). Also in some northern European countries, the species is in decline; however, these declines are relatively short-term adjustments. Recent trend estimates for the UK indicate that over the past three generations, overall declines are of a far smaller magnitude than between 2000 and 2012 (JNCC 2018). These short-term declines do not appear to be continuing (JNCC 2018). Similarly, while the trend in Sweden between 2001 and 2011 was estimated as a decline of between 20-50%, the long term (1980-2011) trend was stable: the population increased to the 1990s, then stabilised prior to the decline. Using the trend that most closely matches the three generation length,  reduces the estimate of the current rate of decline to 23.6%. Recent declines observed in offshore populations on the North Sea and Baltic Sea are not reflected in analogous trends at the breeding sites and may indicate a shift in the distribution or habitat use (Markones et al. 2015, N. Markones in litt. 2018).

Country/territory distribution
Country/Territory Occurrence status Presence Resident Breeding Non-breeding Passage
Algeria V Extant
Anguilla (to UK) N Extant
Antigua and Barbuda N Extant
Aruba (to Netherlands) V Extant
Austria N Extant Yes
Bahamas V Extant
Barbados N Extant
Belarus V Extant
Belgium N Extant Yes
Belize N Extant
Bermuda (to UK) N Extant
Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba (to Netherlands) V Extant
Bosnia and Herzegovina V Extant
Bulgaria N Extant Yes
Canada N Extant Yes Yes
Croatia V Extant
Cuba N Extant
Curaçao (to Netherlands) V Extant
Cyprus V Extant
Czechia N Extant
Denmark N Extant Yes Yes
Dominica N Extant
Dominican Republic N Extant
Egypt V Extant
Estonia N Extant Yes
Faroe Islands (to Denmark) N Extant Yes
Finland N Extant Yes Yes
France N Extant Yes Yes
Germany N Extant Yes Yes
Gibraltar (to UK) N Extant
Greece N Extant Yes
Greenland (to Denmark) N Extant Yes
Guadeloupe (to France) N Extant
Haiti N Extant
Hungary V Extant
Iceland N Extant Yes
India V Extant
Iran, Islamic Republic of V Extant Yes
Ireland N Extant Yes
Israel V Extant
Italy N Extant
Kazakhstan V Extant
Latvia N Extant Yes
Lebanon N Extant Yes
Lithuania N Extant Yes
Luxembourg V Extant
Martinique (to France) N Extant
Mauritania V Extant
Montenegro V Extant
Montserrat (to UK) N Extant
Morocco V Extant
Netherlands N Extant Yes
North Macedonia N Extant Yes
Norway N Extant Yes
Poland N Extant Yes Yes
Portugal N Extant Yes
Puerto Rico (to USA) N Extant
Romania N Extant Yes
Russia N Extant Yes Yes
Russia (European) N Extant Yes Yes
Serbia V Extant
Sint Maarten (to Netherlands) V Extant
Slovakia N Extant Yes
Slovenia V Extant Yes
Spain N Extant Yes
St Kitts and Nevis N Extant
St Lucia N Extant
St Pierre and Miquelon (to France) N Extant Yes
St Vincent and the Grenadines N Extant
Sweden N Extant Yes Yes
Switzerland N Extant Yes
Syria V Extant Yes
Tunisia V Extant
Turkey V Extant
United Kingdom N Extant Yes
USA N Extant Yes
Venezuela V Extant
Virgin Islands (to USA) V Extant

Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA)
Country/Territory IBA Name
Estonia Matsalu Bay
Estonia Hullo and Sviby bays
Estonia Hari Kurk strait
Estonia Väike Väin strait
Estonia Abruka island
Estonia Siiksaare-Oessaare bays
Estonia Kahtla-Kübassaare coast
Estonia Lõu bay
Estonia Riksu coast
Estonia Küdema bay
Estonia Vilsandi archipelago
Iceland Breidafjördur
Ireland Rockabill
Ireland Sovereign Islands
Ireland Puffin Island
Ireland Blasket Islands
Ireland Magharee Islands, Mucklaghmore and Illaunbarnagh
Ireland High Island
Ireland Clare Island cliffs
Ireland Duvillaun Islands
Ireland Inishglora and Inishkeeragh
Ireland Inishduff
Ireland Inishmurray
Ireland Saltee Islands
Ireland Illaunonearaun
Sweden Archipelago and coastline of North-East Scania
Sweden Lomma Bight
Sweden Gnäggen Island
Sweden Bonden Island
Sweden Archipelago of Stockholm
Sweden Lövsta Bight – Björn Archipelago
Sweden Gräsö Archipelago
Poland Delta of the Swina river
Poland Luknajno lake
Poland Lower Vistula River Valley
Greece Porto Lagos, lake Vistonida and coastal lagoons
Greece Nestos delta and coastal lagoons
Finland Eckerö and Hammarland archipelago
Finland Ruissalo
Finland Mietoistenlahti bay
Finland Korppoo and Nauvo southern archipelago
Finland Oura and Enskeri archipelagos
Finland Rauma and Luvia archipelagos
Finland Pori archipelago and wetlands
Finland Kirkkonummi archipelago
Finland Hanko western archipelago
Finland Tammisaari and Inkoo western archipelago
Finland Porvoo outer archipelago
Finland Porvoonjoki Delta
Finland Pernaja outer archipelago
Finland Kirkon-Vilkkiläntura Bay
Finland Itäinen Suomenlahti National Park
Finland Artjärvi wetlands
Finland Värtsilä valley
Finland Lapväärti wetlands
Finland Kristiinankaupunki southern archipelago
Finland Merenkurkku archipelago
Finland Kokkola and Kälviä archipelago
Finland Rahja archipelago
Finland Krunnit archipelago
Finland Martimoaapa-Lumiaapa-Penikat
Russia (European) Ainov islands
Russia (European) Gavrilovski archipelago
Russia (European) Valaamski archipelago
Russia (European) Kurgalski Peninsula
Russia (European) Seven islands
Russia (European) Onega Bay of the White Sea
France Bassin d'Arcachon et Banc d'Arguin
France Baie des Veys et Marais du Cotentin
France Iles Saint Marcouf
France Iles Chausey
France Littoral Augeron
France Rade de Brest: Baie de Daoulas et Anse du Poulmic
France Golfe du Morbihan et Etier de Penerf
France Baie de Quiberon
France Baie de Goulven
France Estuaire et embouchure de la Seine
France Estuaire de la Canche
France Cap Gris-nez
France Anse du Fiers d'Ars en Ré
France Bonne Anse
France Estuaires picards : baies de Somme et d'Authie
France Traicts et marais salants de la Presqu'île Guérandaise
France Marais de Brière
France Estuaire de la Loire
France Lac de Grand-Lieu
France Baie de Bourgneuf et marais breton
France Baie du Mont Saint Michel et Ile des Landes
France Archipel des Sept-Iles
France Ile de Goulmedec
France Iles de la Colombière, de la Nellière et des Haches
France Archipel de Molène
France Cap Sizun
France Archipel des Glénan
France Baies de Morlaix et de Carantec
France Ile d'Ouessant
France Cap Frehel
France Presqu'île de Crozon, Tas de Pois et Rochers du Toulinguet
France Cap Fagnet
United Kingdom Ailsa Craig
United Kingdom Buchan Ness to Collieston Coast
United Kingdom Caithness Cliffs
United Kingdom Cape Wrath
United Kingdom Copinsay
United Kingdom Calf of Eday
United Kingdom Fair Isle
United Kingdom Farne Islands
United Kingdom Fetlar
United Kingdom Firth of Forth
United Kingdom Flannan Isles
United Kingdom Firth of Forth Islands
United Kingdom Foula
United Kingdom Fowlsheugh
United Kingdom Glannau Aberdaron and Ynys Enlli
United Kingdom Glannau Ynys Gybi/Holy Island Coast
United Kingdom Grassholm
United Kingdom Handa
United Kingdom Hermaness, Saxa Vord and Valla Field
United Kingdom Hoy
United Kingdom Isles of Scilly
United Kingdom Lewis Peatlands
United Kingdom Mingulay and Berneray
United Kingdom Monach Islands
United Kingdom Morecambe Bay
United Kingdom Mousa
United Kingdom North Colonsay and Western Cliffs
United Kingdom North Rona and Sula Sgeir
United Kingdom North Uist Machair and Islands
United Kingdom Noss
United Kingdom Papa Westray (North Hill and Holm)
United Kingdom Pembrokeshire Cliffs
United Kingdom Pentland Firth Islands
United Kingdom Priest Island
United Kingdom Ramna Stacks and Gruney
United Kingdom Rathlin Island
United Kingdom Rum
United Kingdom Ribble and Alt Estuaries
United Kingdom Sanda Island
United Kingdom Severn Estuary
United Kingdom Sheep Island
United Kingdom Shiant Isles
United Kingdom Skokholm and Skomer
United Kingdom South-eastern Stronsay
United Kingdom St Kilda
United Kingdom Strangford Lough and islands
United Kingdom Sule Skerry and Sule Stack
United Kingdom Tiree and Coll
United Kingdom Traeth Lafan, Conwy Bay
United Kingdom Treshnish Isles
United Kingdom Troup, Pennan and Lion Heads
United Kingdom Upper Solway Flats and Marshes
United Kingdom Ynys Feurig, Cemlyn Bay and the Skerries
United Kingdom Almorness Point and Hestan Island
United Kingdom Auskerry
United Kingdom Canna and Sanday
United Kingdom Cardigan Island
United Kingdom North Sutherland Coastal Islands
United Kingdom Eilean nan Ron
United Kingdom Faray and Holm of Faray
United Kingdom Gigha Island and Islets
United Kingdom Horse Island
United Kingdom Little Cumbrae Island
United Kingdom Mochrum and Castle Lochs
United Kingdom North Westray Coast
United Kingdom Rothiesholm Peninsula, Stronsay
United Kingdom South Walls and Switha
United Kingdom Tips of Corsemaul and Tom Mor
United Kingdom Tolsta Head, Lewis
United Kingdom Calf of Man
United Kingdom Isle of Man Sea Cliffs
United Kingdom Guernsey Shoreline
Poland Slowinska Site
Greenland (to Denmark) Kitsissorsuit (Ederfugleøer)
Denmark Saltholm
Denmark Hirsholmene
Denmark Nordre Rønner
Denmark Northern Kattegat
Greenland (to Denmark) Kitsissut Avalliit (Ydre Kitsissut)
Norway Sør-Fugløy
Norway Kjørholmane seabird reserve
Norway Skjernøy, South Skerries
Norway Sklinna
Norway Runde
Norway Hornøy and Reinøy
Norway Inner Porsangerfjord
Svalbard and Jan Mayen Islands (to Norway) Bjørnøya (Bear Island)
Greenland (to Denmark) Islands and waters south and west of Upernavik town
Germany Ponds and Elbe valley near Torgau
Germany Mühlenberger Loch
Germany Wagbach lowlands
Germany Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea National Park
Germany Westrügen - Hiddensee - Zingst
Germany Western bay of the Fehmarnsund
Germany Jadebusen, inland
Germany Land Wursten
Germany Rhäden near Obersuhl and Bosserode
Denmark Northwestern Kattegat
France Estuaire de l'Orne
France Baie de Saint-Brieuc
France Estuaires du Trieux et du Jaudy
France Baie de Vilaine
France Vallée de la Loire : environs de Montlouis-sur-Loire
France Etangs de la Woëvre: lac de Madine
France Vallée de la Garonne : Moissac
France Vallée de la Loire : de Nantes à Montsoreau
France Marais poitevin et baie de l'Aiguillon
France Ilôts de Trévorc'h
France Marais salants de Noirmoutier
Canada Gannet Islands
Canada The Wolves Archipelago
Canada Grand Manan Archipelago
Canada Manawagonish Island
Canada Point Lepreau/Maces Bay
Canada Quoddy Region
Canada Cape St. Mary's
Canada Witless Bay Islands
Canada Baccalieu Island
Canada Funk Island
Canada Quidi Vidi Lake
Canada Corbin Island
Canada Middle Lawn Island
Canada Sable Island, Nova Scotia
Canada Long Point Peninsula and Marshes
Canada Point Pelee
Canada Port Colborne (breakwater and mainland)
Canada Pigeon Island
Canada Wildwood Gull Roost
Canada Nottawasaga Island
Canada Bonaventure Island
Canada Île Shag
Canada Île Brion
Canada Île de l'Est
Canada Rocher Le Corps Mort
Canada Île Paquet
Canada Îlot C
Canada Île aux Loups Marins
Canada Banc de Carleton
Canada Shigawake-Newport
Canada Pointe Saint-Pierre et île Plate
Canada Cap d'Espoir
Canada Baie de Gaspé
Canada Péninsule de Forillon
Canada Îles Les Boules
Canada Île Bicquette
Canada Île aux Pommes
Canada Île Blanche
Canada Îles Pèlerins
Canada Brandypot Islands
Canada Île aux Fraises
Canada Baie de Brador
Canada Saint-Augustin Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Canada Îles Sainte-Marie
Canada Îles aux Perroquets
Canada Baie des Loups
Canada Watshishou
Canada Petite Île Sainte-Geneviève
Canada Betchouane
Canada Île Nue de Mingan
Canada La Grosse Boule Island
Canada Corossol Island
Canada Baie Comeau
Canada Baie des Escoumins et Grandes-Bergeronnes
Canada Batture Batture aux Alouettes and mouth of Saguenay River
Canada Le Pilier de Pierre
Canada Le Pilier de Bois
Canada Battures aux Loups Marins
Canada Réserve nationale de faune des Îles-de-Contrecoeur
Canada Île Deslauriers
Canada Île a Calculot
Bahamas Lee Stocking Island
Bahamas Gilliam Bay
United Kingdom Sleibhtean Agus Chladach Thiriodh
United Kingdom Moray Basin, Firths and Bays
Sweden Weather Islands
Sweden Archipelago of Nothern Hälsingland
Bahamas North Atlantic Abaco Cays
Finland Maltio fjelds
Finland Kevo
Finland Oulu region wetlands
Finland Luoto archipelago
Finland Uusikaarlepyy archipelago
Finland Kirkkojärvi lake and Lupinlahti bay
Finland Laajalahti bay, Vanhankaupunginlahti bay and Viikki
Denmark Jammerbugten
Germany Lower Saxony Wadden Sea National Park
Germany Lower reaches of River Weser, unembanked area
Germany Lower Saxonian North Sea off the East Frisian Islands
Germany Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea National Park (includes the Halligs, Kniepsand/Amrum, Lister Koog, Rantumbecken, Rickelsb
Germany Eastern part of Kiel Bight
Germany Coast and lagoons of Western Pomerania
Ireland Inishtrahull
Ireland Roaninish
Ireland Broadhaven, Blacksod and Tullaghan Bays and parts of the Mullet peninsula
Ireland Inishkea Islands
Ireland Inishbofin and Inishshark (including Davillaun)
Ireland Skerries Islands
Ireland Ireland's Eye
Ireland Cruagh Island
Ireland Lough Foyle
Ireland Wicklow Head
Ireland Lambay Island
Ireland Helvick Head
Ireland Howth Head
Denmark Fanø
Denmark Mandø
Denmark Rømø
Denmark Skallingen and Langli
Denmark Vadehavet (Wadden Sea)
Poland Szczecin lagoon
Poland Vistula river mouth
Norway Nykvåg
Norway Lille Kamøya & Bondøya
Estonia Karala-Pilguse
Estonia Kolga bay
Estonia Vaindloo island
Estonia Väinameri
Netherlands Frisian Front
Netherlands Grevelingen
Netherlands Wadden Coast
Netherlands Delta Coast
Netherlands Wadden Sea
Sweden Archipelago of Östergötland
Sweden Bay of Rynninge
Sweden Western part of Lake Mälaren
Sweden Coastal area of Oskarshamn
Sweden Kalmar – Pataholm
Iceland Hvanndalabjorg
Netherlands Mainland Coast
Iceland Oxarfjordur
Iceland Stigahlid-Deild
Iceland Borgarfjördur-Myrar-Longufjorur

Habitats & altitude
Habitat (level 1) Habitat (level 2) Importance Occurrence
Marine Coastal/Supratidal Coastal Sand Dunes suitable breeding
Marine Coastal/Supratidal Sea Cliffs and Rocky Offshore Islands major breeding
Marine Intertidal Rocky Shoreline suitable breeding
Marine Intertidal Sandy Shoreline and/or Beaches, Sand Bars, Spits, Etc suitable non-breeding
Marine Intertidal Sandy Shoreline and/or Beaches, Sand Bars, Spits, Etc suitable breeding
Marine Intertidal Shingle and/or Pebble Shoreline and/or Beaches suitable non-breeding
Marine Intertidal Shingle and/or Pebble Shoreline and/or Beaches suitable breeding
Marine Intertidal Tidepools suitable breeding
Marine Neritic Estuaries suitable non-breeding
Marine Neritic Macroalgal/Kelp suitable non-breeding
Marine Neritic Macroalgal/Kelp suitable breeding
Marine Neritic Pelagic suitable non-breeding
Marine Neritic Pelagic suitable breeding
Marine Neritic Seagrass (Submerged) suitable non-breeding
Marine Neritic Seagrass (Submerged) suitable breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Loose Rock/pebble/gravel suitable non-breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Loose Rock/pebble/gravel suitable breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Rock and Rocky Reefs suitable non-breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Rock and Rocky Reefs suitable breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Sandy suitable non-breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Sandy suitable breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Sandy-Mud suitable non-breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Sandy-Mud suitable breeding
Altitude   Occasional altitudinal limits  

Threats & impact
Threat (level 1) Threat (level 2) Impact and Stresses
Biological resource use Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources - Unintentional effects: (large scale) [harvest] Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Slow, Significant Declines Low Impact: 5
Indirect ecosystem effects, Reduced reproductive success

Purpose Primary form used Life stage used Source Scale Level Timing
Pets/display animals, horticulture - - International Non-trivial Recent
Sport hunting/specimen collecting - - Non-trivial Recent

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Larus marinus. Downloaded from on 30/06/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 30/06/2022.