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
Slaty-backed Gull


27" (68.5 cm). Resembles oversized Western Gull. Head, underparts, and tail pure white; back and wings dark slaty-gray with broad white trailing edge; legs bright pink; bill yellow with orange spot; eyes creamy-yellow. Immature plumages similar to Great Black-backed Gull only paler.


Similar to that of Herring Gull, but deeper and more guttural.


calls of flock


Breeds on South-East cliffs and rocky islands; forages on mudflats.


Breeds in northeastern Eurasia. Winters from Bering Sea and Kamchatka south to Japan and the coast of eastern China. Regularly wanders to Aleutian Islands and coast of western Alaska; at least one inland record for the United States.


The increasing interest in gull identification, coupled with the known tendency for all gull species to wander great distances, makes this a species for North American birders to be on the lookout for. Its similarity to several other species make it potentially easy to overlook outside of its traditional habitat in western Alaska.


3 olive-buff, brown-spotted eggs, in seaweed-built nest placed on a rock; occasionally on sandy beach.

Similar Species

breeding adult withnestling

Herring Gull

23-26" (58-66 cm). Adult white with light gray back and wings; wing tip black with white spots; bill yellow with red spot on lower mandible; feet pink or flesh colored. First-year birds brownish.

adult, breeding

Lesser Black-backed Gull

23" (58 cm). Slightly smaller than the Herring Gull. Adult has yellow legs; dark slate-gray back and wings. Immatures of this species and Herring Gull are very similar and hard to distinguish.

adult, breeding, long-calling

Western Gull

24-27" (61-69 cm). Snow white, with dark slate-colored back and wings. Yellow eye and bill; breeding adult has a red dot near tip of lower mandible. Pinkish or flesh-colored feet.


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