Return to Main Page   Dakota Birder Blog    

Slaty-backed Gull

Larus schistisagus

Length: 25 inches Wingspan: 58 inches Seasonality: Non-resident in South Dakota
ID Keys: Large size, pink legs, dark mantle, yellow bill with red spot on lower mandible, streaking on head and neck, completely white tail

Slaty-backed Gull - Larus schistisagusThe Slaty-backed Gull is a large gull species native to northeastern Asia, from Siberia southward to Korea and Japan.  In North America, they are rare visitors, with most sightings occurring in and around Alaska, but also with sightings in many other scattered locations.  Breeding has occurred in North America, with the first confirmed breeding occurring in Aniktun Island in the 1990s.

Habitat: Found around rocky cliffs or rocky slopes when breeding, or less frequently, in sandy areas with vegetation.  Also found in coastal areas during the non-breeding season.

Diet: Omnivorous. Food items include fish, crustaceans, mollusks, insects, bird eggs and young birds, small vertebrates such as small rodents, and carrion.  May also sometimes feed on vegetation, such as berries.

Behavior: Uses a variety of foraging techniques depending on location and food item.

Nesting: A colonial nester.  The nest is made of seaweed and other vegetation, placed on a rocky ledge, or on a rocky slope.  The female lays 2 or 3 eggs, and both parents help to incubate them.  When the eggs hatch, both parents help take care of the young.  First flight occurs after about 7 or 8 weeks.

Song: Has a loud bugling "kaaww" call.

Migration:  Breeds in coastal locations of northeastern Russia, with limited breeding in the far northern Japanese Islands. Non-breeding birds can be found further south, including coastal Korea, China, and Taiwan.

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

Similar Species: Similar to North America's Western Gull and the Herring Gull.

Conservation Status: Populations are considered stable.  The IUCN lists the Slaty-backed Gull as a species of "Least Concern".

Further Information: 1) Alaska Seabird Information Series - Slaty-backed Gull

2) BirdLife International - Slaty-backed Gull

3) - Slaty-backed Gull

Photo Information: Photo taken by Kevin Lin - Photo licensed under Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 2.0 Generic License.


Click below for a higher-resolution map
Slaty-backed Gull - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Non-resident in South Dakota

Additional Slaty-backed Gull Photos (coming soon!!)