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) 33,500,000 km2 medium
Extent of Occurrence (non-breeding) 27,900,000 km2 medium
Severely fragmented? no -
Estimate Data quality Derivation Year of estimate
Population size unknown poor estimated 2012
Population trend unknown - suspected -
Generation length 12 years - - -

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

Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA)
Country/Territory IBA Name
Iceland Breidafjördur
Ireland Inishduff
Sweden Archipelago of Stockholm
Finland Eckerö and Hammarland archipelago
Finland Korppoo and Nauvo southern archipelago
Finland Rauma and Luvia archipelagos
Finland Kirkkonummi archipelago
Finland Tammisaari and Inkoo western archipelago
Finland Merenkurkku archipelago
Russia (European) Seven islands
France Estuaire de la Canche
France Iles Chausey
France Archipel de Molène
France Archipel des Glénan
France Baies de Morlaix et de Carantec
France Ile d'Ouessant
France Cap Gris-nez
United Kingdom Calf of Eday
Denmark Saltholm
Denmark Hirsholmene
Denmark Nordre Rønner
Denmark Northern Kattegat
Canada Quidi Vidi Lake
Canada Sable Island, Nova Scotia
Canada Île aux Pommes
Canada Baie des Escoumins et Grandes-Bergeronnes
United Kingdom Isle of Man Sea Cliffs
United Kingdom Isles of Scilly
United Kingdom Hoy
United Kingdom North Rona and Sula Sgeir
United Kingdom Copinsay
United Kingdom Moray Basin, Firths and Bays
United Kingdom Rothiesholm Peninsula, Stronsay
United Kingdom Treshnish Isles
Sweden Archipelago and coastline of North-East Scania
Sweden Weather Islands
United Kingdom Faray and Holm of Faray
Germany Lower Saxony Wadden Sea National Park
Ireland Duvillaun Islands
Ireland Blasket Islands
Ireland Saltee Islands
Ireland Lambay Island
Ireland Ireland's Eye
Norway Lille Kamøya & Bondøya
Netherlands Grevelingen
Netherlands Wadden Coast
Netherlands Wadden Sea
Netherlands Mainland Coast

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 (2024) Species factsheet: Larus marinus. Downloaded from on 04/03/2024.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2024) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 04/03/2024.