back to the Gull ID MainPage

Lesser Black-backed Gull


Second Cycle


LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL(20-24"; 49-50") graellsii/intermedius

BILL SHAPE: slightly smaller and thinner than Herring; 4x eye diam.; gon angle small to medium; culmen slopes gently to tip
HEAD SHAPE: rather rounded with slightly flat crown
WING EXTENSTION: long; 1-1.5x bill length
POSTURE/HABITS: usually appears smaller and more graceful than Herring
BILL COLOR: black; no pale base until summer variable; usually pale w/ black subterm area yellow w/ dark subterm band or mark dark yellow w/ red or orange-red gon spot; pale tip
LEG COLOR: dull pink usually pink to pale pink yellowish to grayish-flesh pale to dark yellow
IRIS/ORB RING: dark dark or pale as adult pale yellow; orb ring red
HEAD: rather pale, w/ dark mottling or streaking around eye, auriculars, and rear crown; young birds have solid blackish patch from front of eye to auriculars white w/ thin streaks over crown and aurs; darker streaks on nape and neck sides as adult extensively streaked w/ fine lines over crown and face; thicker streaks on nape and neck sides to upper breast
UNDERPARTS: blackish mottling from lower nape and neck sides to breast sides and flanks; belly paler; undt covs spotted white w/ extensive dark streaking or mottling on breast sides and flanks white white
blackish blackish black; A-spots tiny or lacking A-spots evenly spaced except 9-10 closer; all are smaller than eye
(in flight):
blackish above and below blackish above and below as adult but A-spots and mirrors often lacking; black area slightly larger med to large mirror near tip on P10 (rarely terminal); small mirror on P9 often on gr.; black band on P5; often dark mark on P4; gray area quite dark from below
(in flight):
blackish above and below w/ very narrow pale fringe dark above and below w/ pale fringe as adult adult gray w/ broad white trailing edge about 1/2 bill length; strong contrast with gray area below
TERTIALS: very dark brown w/ crisp white edge; may have diffuse pale area near tip or small notches on sides dark gray w/ large pale marbled tips as adult but mixed w/ brown adult gray w/ large white crescent about 2/3 bill length
GREATER COVERTS: solid dark brown-black w/ obvious pale fringe and subterminal spot; more barred and spotted on inner feathers; appears as a dark bar in flight mottled adult gray and brown adult gray mixed w/ brown adult gray
LESSER & MED COVERTS: rather dark brown w/ pale edges, creating a scaled look (very bold in young birds); muddy later in winter adult gray w/ dark subterm anchors adult gray mixed w/ brown adult gray
SCAPULARS: similar to med,les covs adult gray w/ dark centers as adult adult gray w/ little or no white crescent
BACK: similar to med,les covs adult gray w/ dark centers adult gray adult gray is med dark on graellsii, very dark on intermedius
RUMP: appears quite pale; white with some dark mottling white white white
TAIL: large black band w/ pale fringe; all but inner retri- ces w/ extensive irreg pale barring at bases; outer- most webs white w/ dark bands near tip large black subterm band w/ extensive marbled base; outermost webs white white w/ variable subterm marks, esp on inner retrices white

The was table created by Steve Hampton and is intended to futher our knowledge of gull identification. Please email me at if you have any suggestions for updating or improving this table. Thanks.