nominate Lesser Black-backed Gull (L. f. fuscus)

(last update: 14-9-2010)

Amir Ben Dov (Israel)
Hannu Koskinen (Finland)
Mars Muusse (the Netherlands)

fuscus rings

fuscus 1cy July
fuscus 1cy Aug
fuscus 1cy Sept
fuscus 1cy Oct
fuscus 1cy Nov
fuscus 1cy Dec

fuscus 2cy Jan
fuscus 2cy Feb
fuscus 2cy March
fuscus 2cy April
fuscus 2cy May
fuscus 2cy June
fuscus 2cy July
fuscus 2cy Aug
fuscus 2cy Sept
fuscus 2cy Oct
fuscus 2cy Nov

fuscus 2cy Dec

fuscus 3cy Jan
fuscus 3cy Feb
fuscus 3cy March
fuscus 3cy April
fuscus 3cy May
fuscus 3cy June
fuscus 3cy July
fuscus 3cy August

fuscus 3cy Sept

fuscus 3cy October
fuscus 3cy Nov
fuscus 3cy Dec

fuscus 4cy Jan
fuscus 4cy Feb
fuscus 4cy March
fuscus 4cy April
fuscus 4cy May
fuscus 4cy June
fuscus 4cy July
fuscus 4cy Aug
fuscus 4cy Sept

fuscus 4cy Oct
fuscus 4cy Nov
fuscus 4cy Dec

fuscus ad Jan
fuscus ad Feb
fuscus ad March
fuscus ad April
fuscus ad May
fuscus ad June
fuscus ad July
fuscus ad Aug
fuscus unringed Aug
fuscus ad Sept
fuscus ad Oct
fuscus ad Nov
fuscus ad Dec

4cy fuscus: November


R. G. B. Brown, 1967 IN: Ibis, Volume 109, Issue 3, pages 310–317, July 1967


There is a large, mixed colony of the two “ring” species, the Herring Gull Larus argentatus and Lesser Black-backed Gull L. fuscus, on Walney Island, northwest Lancashire. These birds are nesting at the very high density of one nest/40 square yards, or more, but although they defend their territories against both species indiscriminately, there is effectively no hybridization. This paper discusses the nature of the species isolation mechanism, and its function.

Since the two species can produce fertile hybrids, the mechanism must be of an ecological/behavioural nature, rather than morphological incompatibility. It is shown that there are slight differences in breeding season and habitat, but these do not seem to be great enough to account for the high degree of isolation.

It is likely that species isolation depends primarily on the female's choice of a mate. It is suggested that, as specific cues, she uses the differences in call-note tones, and the colour of the back (and perhaps also of the eye-ring), or both.

Herring Gulls and Lesser Black-backs are adapted to slightly different niches. The overlap is so great, however, that any hybrid is unlikely to be at a disadvantage; but the overlap can only have arisen very recently, as a result of both species taking advantage of the increased availability of human refuse. It is possible that the isolation mechanism was evolved to cope with earlier conditions, when food was more limited, and the species' niches more sharply defined.

1cy fuscus in August, ringed in Finland. (81365 bytes)L. f. fuscus 4cy C27N November 06 2009, Ashdod, Israel. Pictures: Amir Ben Dov. Complete moult halfway.