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Larus marinus

Larus marinus (*)

Cladus: Eukaryota
Supergroup: Opisthokonta
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Cladus: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Classis: Aves
Subclassis: Carinatae
Infraclassis: Neornithes
Parvclassis: Neognathae
Ordo: Charadriiformes
Subordo: Lari
Familia: Laridae
Subfamilia: Larinae
Genus: Larus
Species: Larus marinus


Larus marinus (Linnaeus, 1758)


Systema Naturae ed.10 p.136

Vernacular names
Български: Голяма черногърба чайка
Česky: Racek mořský
Cymraeg: Gwylan Gefnddu Fwyaf
Deutsch: Mantelmöwe
Ελληνικά: Γιγαντόγλαρος
English: Great Black-backed Gull
Esperanto: Nigramantela mevo
Eesti: Merikajakas
Français: Goéland marin
日本語: オオカモメ
Lietuvių: Balnotasis kiras
Nederlands: Grote mantelmeeuw
‪Norsk (nynorsk)‬: Svartbak
‪Norsk (bokmål)‬: Svartbak
Polski: Mewa siodłata
Suomi: Merilokki
Svenska: Havstrut
Türkçe: Büyük kara sırtlı martı

The Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus) is a very large gull which breeds on the European and North American coasts and islands of the North Atlantic. It is fairly sedentary, but some Great Black-backed Gulls move farther south or inland to large lakes or reservoirs.

The Great Black-backed Gull was one of the many species originally described by Linnaeus in his 18th-century work, Systema Naturae, and it still bears its original name of Larus marinus.[1]

This is the largest gull, bigger than a Herring Gull. It is 71–79 cm (28–31 in) long with a 1.5–1.7 m (5–5.7 ft) wingspan and a body weight of 1.3–2.2 kg (2.9–4.8 lb), though large males regularly exceed this weight.[2][3] It is bulky, and has a powerful bill. The adults have black wings and back, with conspicuous white "mirrors" at the wing tips. The legs are pinkish, and the bill yellow with a red spot.

Young birds have scaly black-brown upperparts, and a neat wing pattern. They take at least four years to reach maturity, development in this species being somewhat slower than that of other large gulls. The call is a deep "laughing" cry.
Great Black-Backed Gull grabs an Eider Duckling.

Great Black-backed Gulls are opportunistic and get most of their food from scavenging (refuse at times comprising more than half of their diet) and capturing fish. However, unlike most Larus gulls, they are highly predatory and frequently hunt and kill any prey smaller than themselves, behaving more like a raptor than a typical larid gull. Lacking the razor-sharp talons and curved, tearing beak of a raptor, the Great Black-backed Gull relies on aggression, physical strength and endurance when hunting, seizing the prey, muscling it into a position where it cannot escape and is unable to fight back effectively (e.g. pinning it to the ground, or holding it aloft) and allowing it to struggle to exhaustion. At this point, the gull will reposition its grip and attempt to break the prey's neck with a bite or vigorous shake, or dispatch it with hammer blows to the skull from the beak. The Great Black-backed Gull may also attempt to use the environment to its advantage, attempting to hold the prey animal's head under water so as to drown it, smashing the its skull against the ground, or a rock, or dropping it from a height onto a hard surface and following up with a diving strike from the beak. This behaviour can commonly be observed in urban areas and landfill sites where the gulls feed on Feral Pigeons, rats and mice. They frequently rob other seabirds of their catch and have been known to follow feeding Humpback Whales, Porbeagles and Northern Bluefin Tuna to catch fish driven to the surface by the larger animals.[4] Great Black-backed Gulls are major predators at the nesting colonies of smaller seabirds, killing and eating eggs, chicks and adult birds. Atlantic Puffins, Common Murres, Herring Gulls, Common Terns, Roseate Terns, Manx Shearwaters, Horned Grebes and Laughing Gulls are regularly culled by the Great Black-backs. They generally target chicks since they are easily found, handled, and swallowed. They can swallow puffins, terns[5] or small ducks whole.

This species breeds singly or in small colonies, making a lined nest on the ground often on top of a rocky stack. A female lays one to three eggs. Young Great Black-backed Gulls leave the nest area at 50 days of age and may remain with their parents for months afterwards, though most fledglings choose to congregate with other immature gulls in the search for food.[4] Chicks and eggs are preyed on by crows, cats, other gulls, storks, raccoons and rats. The Bald Eagle and White-tailed Eagle are the only birds that take healthy, fully grown Great Black-backed Gulls. Killer whales and sharks also prey upon adult birds.

The maximum recorded age for a wild Great Black-backed Gull is 27.1 years.[6]


1. ^ (Latin) Linnaeus, C (1758). Systema naturae per regna tria naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Tomus I. Editio decima, reformata.. Holmiae. (Laurentii Salvii)..
2. ^ http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/330/articles/characteristics
3. ^ http://npweb.npolar.no/english/arter/svartbak
4. ^ a b All About Birds: Great Black-backed Gull
5. ^ Sylvester, Brad (2009-08-07). "Gull swallows Tern whole near Isles of Shoals breeding colony". Manchester Bird Watching Examiner. http://www.examiner.com/x-13230-Manchester-Bird-Watching-Examiner~y2009m8d7-Gull-swallows-tern-whole-near-Isles-of-Shoals-breeding-colony. Retrieved 2009-08-27.
6. ^ http://genomics.senescence.info/species/entry.php?species=Larus_marinus

* BirdLife International (2004). Larus marinus. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. www.iucnredlist.org. Retrieved on 12 May 2006. Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern
* National Geographic. Field Guide to the Birds of North America ISBN 0-7922-6877-6
* Harrison, Peter. Seabirds, ISBN 0-7470-1410-8
* del Hoyo, Josep (Ed.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Vol 3, ISBN 84-87334-10-5
* Sibley, David Allen. The Sibley Guide to Birds, National Audubon Society, ISBN 0-679-45122-6
* Malling Olsen, Klaus & Larsson, Hans. Gulls of Europe, Asia and North America, ISBN 0-7136-7087-8

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Source: Wikipedia, Wikispecies: All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License