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Slaty-backed gull facts for kids

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Slaty-backed gull
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Larus schistisagus map.svg

The slaty-backed gull (Larus schistisagus) is a large, white-headed gull that breeds on the north-eastern coast of the Palearctic, but travels widely during nonbreeding seasons. It is similar in appearance to the western gull and the glaucous-winged gull. Another alternate name is Pacific gull, though this also applies to a Southern Hemisphere species, L. pacificus. Claims have been made as to its (sometimes occasional) presence throughout North America. as well as the eastern coast of temperate Asia (Palearctic). On 3 November 2012, an individual was spotted in Finland. The species has only been spotted three times before in Europe.

This species is tied with the yellow-footed gull for fourth-largest gull species. This species measures 55–68.5 cm (21.7–27.0 in) in length, 132–160 cm (52–63 in) in wingspan, and 1.05–1.7 kg (2.3–3.7 lb) in weight. Among standard measurements, the wing chord is 40 to 48 cm (16 to 19 in), the bill is 4.8 to 6.5 cm (1.9 to 2.6 in), and the tarsus is 6 to 7.6 cm (2.4 to 3.0 in). It has a white head, belly, and tail with a dark slaty-gray back and wings with a broad white trailing edge. The wings and back are slightly darker than those of the western gull. The undersides of the wings feature a "string of pearls" pattern along their edges; these can be seen from below when the bird is in flight. Its eyes are yellow. The legs are pink and short when compared with those of similar-looking gulls, and the body appears more stout. The bill is yellow with orange-red subterminal spot (the spot near the end of the bill that chicks peck to stimulate regurgitative feeding). Immature gulls' plumage is brown, similar to that of the great black-backed gull, but paler, and is practically indistinguishable from the immature herring gull in the field.


The genus name is from Latin larus, which appears to have referred to a gull or other large seabird. The specific schistisagus is from New Latin schistus, "slate", and Latin sagus, "cloak".

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