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Lesser Black-backed Gull

Larus fuscus

Length: 22 inches Wingspan: 54 inches Seasonality: Rare Visitor
ID Keys: Dark gray back and wings, yellow legs, yellow bill with red spot.

Lesser Black-backed Gull - Larus fuscusThe Lesser Black-backed Gull is normally a Eurasian gull, but has been seen with increasing frequency in North America in recent decades.  This may be due to a large increase in numbers in Iceland.  As numbers continue to increase, it's quite possible that the Lesser Black-backed Gull may one day begin breeding in North America.

Habitat: Primarily found along coastlines, but also occasionally around inland lakes (especially the Great Lakes).

Diet: Omnivorous.  Feeds on fish, crustaceans, mollusks, insects, worms, eggs, small birds, small rodents, amphibians, carrion, refuse, berries, and other plant material.

Behavior: Will forage by walking on land, wading in shallow water, dipping down to the water's surface while in flight, or by swimming.

Breeding: Non-breeder in South Dakota

Song: Wide range of calls similar to other gulls.

Migration: Normally a European Gull, stragglers might be found in the U.S. at any month.

Interactive eBird Map: Click here to access an interactive eBird map of Lesser Black-backed Gull sightings

Similar Species: Within the borders of South Dakota, most similar to the Great Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull.  See Identification Tips. Outside of South Dakota, also very similar to the Yellow-legged Gull and the Kelp Gull, rare visitors to North America.

Conservation Status: Has increased in both range and numbers in recent decades, and is increasingly more common in North America.

South Dakota "Hotspot": A rarity in the state, but most sightings of the species have occurred near the Missouri River dams.

Further Information: 1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Lesser Black-backed Gull

2) BirdWeb - Lesser Black-backed Gull

3) Audubon Guide - Lesser Black-backed Gull

Photo Information: April 6th, 2003 -- Pierre, South Dakota -- Doug Backlund


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Lesser Black-backed Gull - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Rare visitor, most often found along the Missouri River and near Missouri River dams.

Additional Lesser Black-backed Gull Photos (coming soon!)