Slaty-backed GullLarus schistisagus

adult, breeding
Dr. Yuri Artukhin/VIREO
adult, nonbreeding
Mark Lockwood/VIREO
Dr. Yuri Artukhin/VIREO
immature (2nd year), wing molt
Dr. Yuri Artukhin/VIREO
immature (3rd year)
Martin Hale/VIREO


Resident along the coastlines of northeastern Asia, this big gull is a regular summer visitor to western Alaska, usually in small numbers. In winter, it has appeared as a rare stray at widely scattered points in North America, as far east as New England and as far south as Texas.


calls of flock

Similar Species

breeding adult withnestling

Herring Gull

Large, abundant, and widespread, the Herring Gull is among the most familiar members of its family, especially in the northeast. It has been extending its range toward the south along the Atlantic Coast in recent decades. In the west, where there are several similar large gulls, no such range expansion seems to be taking place.

adult, breeding

Lesser Black-backed Gull

Once a rare stray to North America, this European gull has become a very common visitor here. Thousands are found every winter (with smaller numbers at other seasons), mainly along the Atlantic Coast south to Florida and inland to the Great Lakes, but with smaller numbers all across the continent. This increase undoubtedly is related to the growing population of the species in Iceland, where it first nested in the 1920s and is now present by the thousands, and in Greenland, where it is a more recent arrival.

adult, breeding, long-calling

Western Gull

The only gull nesting along most of the Pacific Coast from Washington to Baja, this large species is common at all seasons. An opportunist, it often nests around colonies of other seabirds, where it can steal unguarded eggs or chicks. It will also nest near colonies of California sea lions, scavenging any sea lion pups that die of natural causes. At the northern end of its range it hybridizes with Glaucous-winged Gull, and many intermediate birds are seen.


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