Great Black-backed Gull is the largest gull in the world. It is primarily
found in the North Atlantic, along the northeastern and Canadian coastlines in
North America. it is rarely found inland except along the Great Lakes.
It's range has been expanding in recent decades, as it has been appearing inland
more often (still nearly always near the Great Lakes), and further south along
the Atlantic coast. The species was unknown in South Dakota until a single
specimen was documented along the Missouri River near Pierre in 2006.
Habitat: The vast majority of Great Black-backed Gulls
are found in coastal waters of the North Atlantic. Small numbers are found
around the Great Lakes. While primarily a coastal bird, some will spend
much of the winter far offshore over the continental shelf.
Diet: Omnivorous. Food items may include fish,
mollusks, crustaceans, large insects, carrion, eggs, birds, rodents, and
occasionally vegetable matter such as fruits and berries. Its large size
allow it to feed on birds and rodents that are too large for most gulls.
Behavior: Its omnivorous nature make it an
opportunistic feeder. Great Black-backed Gulls will forage while on foot,
while swimming, or in flight. They have adapted well to a human presence,
and can often be found scavenging around garbage dumps, docks, and sea-going
Nesting: Non-breeder in South Dakota.
Song: Deep-throated, hoarse, and slow short phrases.
Migration: Great Black-backed Gulls are permanent
residents in much of their range, but many move southward along the Atlantic
coastline in winter, with the species much more common along the Southeastern
U.S. coast in winter than in summer.
Status: Populations have been expanding in both range
and number in the last few decades.
Cornell Lab of Ornithology - Great Black-backed Gull
eNature.com: Great Black-backed Gull
Photo Information: April 13th, 2012 - Sachuest
National Wildlife Refuge, Rhode Island - Terry Sohl