Lesser black-backed gull

Lesser Black-backed Gull

Lesser black-backed gull ©Derek Moore

Lesser black-backed gull

Scientific name: Larus fuscus
The lesser-black backed gull can be spotted around the coast in summer, with the biggest colony on Walney Island, Cumbria. Look for it over fields, landfill sites and reservoirs during winter.

Species information


Length: 52-67cm
Wingspan: 1.4m
Weight: 830g
Average lifespan: 15 years

Conservation status

Classified in the UK as Amber under the Birds of Conservation Concern 4: the Red List for Birds (2015).

When to see

January to December


The lesser-black backed gull can be seen on farmland, wetlands and around the coast. It is a large, elegant gull, just a little smaller than the herring gull. Like many gulls, it is omnivorous and often scavenges around rubbish tips and in urban areas. The entire world's population of this gull is found in Europe. A staggering one third of the UK's population can be found at Walney Island in Cumbria.

How to identify

Gulls can be very difficult to tell apart, especially immature birds. Adult lesser-black backed gulls are dark grey above and white below, with a white head (streaky during the winter) and black wingtips with white spots. They have yellowy-orange legs.


Widespread. Nests around the coast on clifftops, rooftops and islands.

Did you know?

Until recently, lesser-black backed gulls were only summer visitors to the UK, but now some are resident here all year-round. In the winter, they are joined by birds from Scandinavia, while those of our summer breeding birds that do still migrate spend their winter in Africa.