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Great Black-backed Gull

As the largest gull in the world, this specimen is recognizable by its size and distinctive black plumage on its back and wings.

Breeding in the northeastern U.S. and eastern Canada as well as in Europe, the Great Black-backed Gull is a very large, dark-backed gull. Typically breeding in small colonies, Great Black-backed Gulls usually nest about 15 to 20 feet apart.

Great Black-backed Gulls do not nest until they are four or five years old. One individual is known to have lived 19 years in the wild, though that is an unusually long life. Adult gulls will forage up to 60 miles from their breeding colony.


Description of the Great Black-backed Gull


The Great Black-backed Gull is a very large gull with dark gray upperparts and a white head and underparts. The bill is yellow with a red spot near the tip. In flight, the primaries are extensively black with a large white spot. The legs are pink.  Length: 30 in.  Wingspan: 65 in.

Great Black-backed Gull

Photograph © Glenn Bartley.


The sexes are similar.

Seasonal change in appearance

Winter adults have faint brown streaking on the head.


Immature birds are mostly brown, heavily mottled with white, with a mostly dark or pink and black bill. They attain adult plumage by age four.


Great Black-backed Gulls inhabit coastal areas and large lakes.


Great Black-backed Gulls eat fish, garbage, clams, crabs, worms, berries, and eggs.

Great Black-backed Gull

Photograph © Glenn Bartley.


Great Black-backed Gulls forage by walking or swimming, and sometimes by swooping down to the water’s surface.


Great Black-backed Gulls are resident in eastern Canada and the northeastern U.S., and they winter along the Atlantic Coast of the U.S. as well as near the Great Lakes. The population is increasing.

More information:

Bent Life History

Visit the Bent Life History for extensive additional information on the Great black-backed Gull.

Wing Shape

The shape of a bird’s wing is often an indication of its habits and behavior. Fast flying birds have long, pointed wings. Soaring birds have long, broad wings. Different songbirds will have a slightly different wing shape. Some species look so much alike (Empidonax flycatchers) that scientists sometimes use the length of specific feathers to confirm a species’ identification.

Wing images from the University of Puget Sound, Slater Museum of Natural History

Fun Facts

The Great Black-backed Gull is the largest gull in the world.

Great Black-backed Gulls sometimes break hard to open prey by dropping it onto rocks.


The voice is a very deep bugle.


Similar Species

No other gull species is as large as the Great Black-backed Gull.

Lesser Black-backed Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull has smaller bill and yellow legs.

Large gulls require 4 years to reach adult plumage.  Gull identification provides a challenge to many birders.

Herring Gull
Adult Herring Gull has gray back.


The Great Black-backed Gull’s nest is a mound of plant material on a rocky area.

Number: Usually lay 2-3 eggs.
Color: Brownish or olive with darker markings.

Incubation and fledging:
The young hatch at about 27-28 days, and leave the nest within a few days, though they cannot fly for about 50 days and they associate with the adults for some time.


Bent Life History of the Great Black-backed Gull

Published by the Smithsonian Institution between the 1920s and the 1950s, the Bent life history series of monographs provide an often colorful description of the birds of North America. Arthur Cleveland Bent was the lead author for the series. The Bent series is a great resource and often includes quotes from early American Ornithologists, including Audubon, Townsend, Wilson, Sutton and many others.

Bent Life History for the Great Black-backed Gull – the common name and sub-species reflect the nomenclature in use at the time the description was written.



While cruising along the bleak and barren coasts of southern Labrador I learned to know and admire this magnificent gull, as we saw it sailing on its powerful wings high above the desolate crags and rocky islets of that forbidding shore, its chosen summer home. Its resemblance to the bald eagle was striking, as it soared aloft and wheeled in great circles, showing its broad black back and wings in sharp contrast with its snow-white head and tail, glistening in the sunlight. It surely seemed to be a king among the gulls, a merciless tyrant over its fellows, the largest and strongest of its tribe. No weaker gull dared to intrude upon its feudal domain; the islet it had chosen for its home was deserted and shunned by other less aggressive waterfowl, for no other nest was safe about the castle of this robber baron, only the eider duck being strong enough to defend its young.

Spring: Early in May, when winter is breaking up on the south coast of Labrador, the loud defiant cries of the great black-backed gulls are heard as the birds return from their winter resorts to take possession of their summer homes. Mating and nest building begin soon after their arrival. They are not so gregarious here as other gulls. We found no large breeding colonies on this coast, seldom more than four or five pairs on an island, and often only one pair. They seem to prefer solitude and isolation, where each pair can hold undisputed sway over its own territory. We never found them breeding on the mainland, but always on the bare tops of islands, from which they could have a good outlook. They were never taken by surprise and always left the island long before we reached it, soaring high above us, screaming in protest. They were exceedingly shy and would never come within gunshot unless outwitted by strategy, which was no easy task. While walking along the shore at the base of a clip a black-backed gull flew out over the cliff unexpectedly, and I dropped him with a charge of heavy shot, but this was the only specimen I was able to obtain.

Nesting: The first nest we found was on a little low islet with sandy and rocky shores, over which a single pair of great blackbacked gulls were soaring, as if interested. The nest was conspicuous enough when we landed, for it had been built over the base and about the roots of a dead tree which had been washed up on the beach – a large pile of coarse grasses, seaweeds, sods, and mosses neatly lined with fine grasses. It measured 52 inches across the pile, and the inner cavity, which was deeply hollowed, was 10 inches in diameter. It contained three fresh eggs on May 25, 1909. Another nest was found the next day, which also contained three fresh eggs, on the moss-covered rocks on the highest portion of a small island. It was a shallow nest of mosses, grasses, twigs, and rubbish, with a few feathers and a little seaweed. It measured 20 inches in outside and 10 inches in inside diameter, hollowed to a depth of about 2~ inches. There was only one pair of gulls on this island, but a pair of eiders were nesting in a hollow among some fallen dead trees. On some of the islands the nests were mere depressions in the turf 9 or 10 inches across, and the eggs were laid on the ground. The fresh green grass made a handsome border to these nests, but there was no lining of any sort, and not even a twig or bit of straw was used in the construction. Some of them had evidently been used for several seasons.

On the northeast coast of Labrador, in 1912, I found the great black-hacked gull common and evenly distributed all along the coast, breeding in single pairs on low rocky islands, well inland in the deep bays and among the outer islands. They are locally known as “saddlers” or “saddle backs.” They are intimately associated with the eider ducks, affording them some protection as sentinels to warn them of approaching dangers. There is almost always a pair of great black-backed gulls nesting on every island where the American eiders or northern eiders are breeding. The fishermen rob the ducks’ nests persistently all through the summer, but do not disturb the gull’s nests, for they believe that if the gulls are driven away the ducks will not return to breed again. Apparently the adult gulls do not rob the eider’s nests, for they are too shy to do so while egg collectors are on the island, and at other times the eiders are able to defend their eggs; but I saw some evidence to indicate that the young gulls, when unable to fly but large enough to run about, do sometimes eat the eider eggs. While exploring a low rocky island in one of the bays, where several pairs of northern eiders and one pair of great black-backed gulls were breeding, on August 2, 1912, I noticed an eider’s nest in which the eggs had been broken and eaten. One young gull was seen swimming away from the island and one longlegged youngster, about half grown, was running about over the smooth rocks so fast that we could hardly catch him. I suspected that he was responsible for the broken eggs. Probably the damage done in this way is more than offset by the benefits derived from such wary sentinels and such powerful defenders against the depredations of other gulls and ravens. Young gulls are considered to be very good eating and are often kept in confinement by the residents of Labrador and fattened for the table.

In Newfoundland the great black-backed gull breeds on the islands in fresh-water lakes. On June 23, 1912, I visited a small breeding colony of this species on an island in Sandy Lake, Newfoundland, where about seven pairs of gulls had already hatched their broods and where they had been known to breed regularly for many years. It was a small island, heavily wooded in the central higher portion with birches, poplars, alders, and thick underbrush, but with broad, stony beaches around its shores. The gulls’ nests were scattered along the higher portions of the beaches among the loose rocks. All of the nests were empty and most of the young birds were so well hidden among the stones, under piles of driftwood, or in the woods that we found only two. I saw several downy young, only a few days old, swim away from the beach and out onto the rough waters of the lake, where their parents watched them anxiously and finally drove them back to the island after we had left. A pair of glaucous gulls and one or two pairs of herring gulls were flying about the island, but their nests were probably on some of the neighboring islands.

The southern limit of its breeding range seems to be in Nova Scotia, where there are several breeding colonies in the lakes of Kings County. Mr. Watson L. Bishop (1888) reported several sets taken on May 22 and May 25:

These were collected on rocks and small islands in the Gaspereaux Lake, where quite a number of these birds breed every year. It is about 18 miles from salt water.

There is also said to be a colony of 50 or 100 black-backed gulls nesting on rocky islets in Methol Lake in this county. The largest colony seems to be the well-known colony in Lake George, on which Mr. Howard H. Cleaves has sent me the following interesting notes:

In 1912 there were from 600 to 800 adult great black-backed gulls in the breeding colony at Lake George, Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia. At that time the birds were coufined to two islands near the northern end of the lake, but Mr. Harrison F. Lewis observed that the colony had increased in 1913 and 1914 so that in the latter year the birds were occupying four or five islands. The writer and Mr. G. K. Noble spent the period from July 21 to 28, 1912, encamped on an island within a quarter of a mile of the gull islands, visiting the latter daily, when weather conditions permitted, for the purpose of photographing and otherwise studying the birds. The islands selected by the gulls were not large, each comprising probably between two and three acres. They were bordered with glacial borders of varying sizes, upon which the young and old habitually stood or squatted. The highest portions of the islands were not more than 8 or 10 feet above the level of the lake. The topsoil, evidently not deep, supported thick growths of weeds and bushes, chief among the latter being alders and raspberry. There were a few spruces, but these were small and scattering, and there were also several open areas of coarse turf. The lateness of the season at the time of our visit accounted for the finding of only one nest with eggs (three in number), but there were enough empty nests to Justify the belief that all the adult birds present had bred, which would mean an aggregate of 300 or 400 nests. The birds had used a diversity of sites, some being on rocky peninsulas, others on the turf back from the shore, and many among borders or beside stumps a short way from the water line. All seemed to have been situated with a view to affording the owners a clear outlook, it being noted that apparently no birds had selected locations beneath the canopy of the thicket or under the low, spreading branches of spruces.

Eggs: The great black-backed gull lays usually three eggs, but sometimes only two. The ground color varies from “pale olive buff” to “wood brown,” “bufly brown,” or “Isabella color,” with a tendency in some specimens toward “tawny olive” or “cinnamon.” They are more or less heavily spotted or blotched with various shades of brown, varying from “Brussels brown” to “clove brown,” and are often more or less spotted or clouded with pale lilac, drab, or lavender gray. The measurements of 59 eggs, in various collections, average 77.9 by 54.2 millimeters; the eggs showing the four extreme measure 86.5 by 54.5, 79 by 57.5, 73 by 53, and 73.5 by 51 millimeters.

Young: The period of incubation is said to be 26 days. Both sexes incubate and assist in the care of the young. The young remain in the nest for a day or two, but are soon able to crawl out and run about. They spend much of their time hiding in the grass, in crevices between stones,, among the underbrush, or anywhere that they can find a little shelter, where they probably sleep most of the time; but when disturbed they can run with surprising swiftness. I have had to exert myself to the utmost to catch one of the larger young, whose long legs could carry it about as fast as I could run. They are fed by their parents on soft, semidigested food at first, but gradually they are trained to accept more solid food. Mr. Cleaves has sent me the following notes on the feeding process:

Young of all ages spent much energy in beseeching their parents for food, and the old birds often displayed a discouraging apathy toward their young at such times, even taking to flight or swimming away from the shore to escape the entreaties of their progeny. The older youngsters would sometimes swim after their parents in their eagerness for rations. In begging for a meal it was usual for a young gull to utter a whining cry and to run his bill along the neck or body of his parent. Not infrequently two or three young were thus besieging one old bird simultaneously. In delivering food to her young the old gull first threw her head forward and downward (with a deliberation of movement which must have been painful to the waiting babies), then opened her spacious mouth and began a series of contortions with her neck muscles. The youngsters, being well aware by now of the imminent, centered attention on the flat stones in front of their mother, where the disgorged dainties presently appeared. Both parents were observed to feed the young. Immediately after delivering a meal the old birds sometimes stood by until the young were well underway with it – this so far as we could see, being for the purpose of keeping off neighbors, either young or old, who might be inclined to piracy. On one occasion an old bird chased into the water a half-grown youngster belonging to another pair, and, with her blows at the back of his head with her beak, might have murdered him had he not been able, by the use of both his wings and feet, to make the beach and scramble into the brush. A violent encounter lasting many seconds also took place between two adult birds, the striking of their beaks and the thrashing of their giant wings against the alders creating a commotion such as might do credit to a bull moose. It could not be determined whether the origin of these differences was a matter of food or trespass.

Plumages: The downy young is mainly “pale olive gray,” paler on the head and flanks and white on the central breast portion. The head is distinctly marked with well-defined spots, of various sizes and shapes, of “fuscous black”; the back is indistinctly spotted or variegated with “fuscous” and the wings are more heavily marked with an intermediate shade of “fuscous.” The lower parts are unmarked. By the time that the young bird is half grown it is nearly fledged in its juvenal plumage, which appears first on the scapulars, wings, breast, and back, in about the order named. The dorsal feathers of this plumage are dusky, broadly tipped or margined with “avellaneous” or “vinaceous buff.” This color pattern, which varies considerably in different feathers, is more pronounced in the scapulars and wing coverts than elsewhere. The color patterns in the different feathers vary from a solid dusky center, with broad buffy edges, to a herring-bone pattern, showing a dusky central streak with lateral processes, or to heavy transverse barring. The underparts are also variegated with dusky and “vinaceous buff” or “tilleul buff.” The change from the juvenal to the first winter plumage is not well marked, as it is very gradual and is accomplished with a limited amount of molt. The buffy edgings on the dorsal surface fade and wear away during the winter until they become practically white before spring, when the back appears to be transversely barred with dusky and white. The head, which was heavily streaked with dusky in the fall, and the underparts also become much whiter before spring. In this first-year plumage the primaries are wholly black, with only the narrowest suggestion of white tips on the innermost; the secondaries and tertials are dusky and more or less broadly edged with buffy white; the greater coverts are somewhat variegated; and the lesser coverts are like the back. The tail is basally white, much mottled or variegated with “fuscous” or “fuscous black,” with a broad subterminal band of “fuscous black.” This band is broadest and the mottling is thickest on the central rectices, decreasing outwardly, so that the outer feather has only a large subterminal spot and a few dusky markings. The bill is wholly dark.

The second-year plumage shows only a slight advance toward maturity, and is mainly characterized by the mixture of several different types of feathers in the back, scapulars, and wing coverts. Some of these are wholly “slate color” or “blackish slate,” as in the adult; others are basally so colored and terminally barred, spotted, or variegated; still other new feathers are reproductions of those seen in the first year plumage. There is great individual variation in the amount of “slate color” assumed during this year, but probably it increases as the season advances. The wings are not strikingly different from those of the first year. There are more conspicuous white tips on the tertials, secondaries, and inner primaries, and the coverts contain more “slate color.” The underparts are largely or wholly white, increasingly so toward spring. The bill is lighter near the base and has a light tip.

The third-year plumage shows about the same stage of advance toward maturity as the second year in the herring gull. The mantle is now more than half “blackish slate “; the wing-coverts, both greater and lesser, are still mottled with dusky and white, but there are many adult feathers among the mottled ones; the secondaries and tertials are as in the adult; the primaries are black, tipped with white, and the outer primary now has a broad subterminal white space an inch and a half long. The tail is white, more or less variegated with dusky near the tip. The underparts are pure white, and so is the head, except for a few dusky streaks on the hind neck, which disappear before spring. The bill still shows traces of dusky. At the next postnuptial molt, when a little over 3 years old, some birds probably assume the adult plumage, with the pure white tail, the complete dark mantle and the broad white tips of the primaries, which in the first primary measures 2~ inches. But probably a large majority of the birds still retain traces of immaturity in the primaries and the tail, which do not reach their full perfection until a year later; and apparently the white in the primaries increases a little at each succeeding molt until the maximum is reached. Both adults and young have a complete postnuptial molt in August and September, and an incomplete prenuptial molt during the winter and early spring. The adult winter plumage differs from the nuptial only in having a few faint, narrow streaks of dusky on the hind neck, which are more conspicuous in the younger birds and less so in the older ones.

Food: The great black-backed gull is a voracious feeder, omnivorous, and not at all fastidious. On or about its breeding grounds it feeds largely on the eggs of other birds, particularly sea birds, when it can find them unprotected, or upon the small young of such birds as are unable to defend them. Mr. M. A. Frazar (1887) describes its method of capturing young eiders as follows: Two or three gulls xviii hover over a brood in the water, which, of course, confuses the mother duck and scatters the brood In all directions. Then, by following the ducklings after each dive, they would soon tire them out, and a skillfully directed blow at the bare of the skull, which seldom missed its aim, would in an instant finish the business, and, before the unhappy duck would know which way to turn, Its brood would be one less. On several occasions I have seen the mother duck drawn several feet in the air by clinging to the gull us it dove for its prey, and several times I have seen a venturesome “black-back” get knocked over with a charge of shot when he happened to get too interested In his pursuit and allow of my too close approach.

He writes in the same paper that some of these gulls partially devoured some cormorants which he had shot and allowed to drift on the water for a short time. It feeds largely on fish, but probably seldom succeeds in catching them itself. It does not object to carrion, and will gorge itself on the carcass of a dead whale or pick up anything that it can find in the way of animal food along the shore. While wintering on our coasts it does its part as a scavenger, feeding on floating garbage with other gulls. Mr. Cleaves contributes the following notes on its feeding habits: From remains discovered on the ground it was evident that the food of the birds consisted exclusively of fish and allied sea food. The greater portion of a large squid was once found where it had been abandoned, evidently by a fleeing youngster; and on another occasion we discovered a 10-Inch mackerel that had been very little affected by the digestive juices of the old gull that had delivered It to her young. Lesser remains of fish were frequently found, and occasionally we came to bones where it would seem they had been disgorged in the shape of pellets. None of the food was secured In the freshwater lake, but was obtained f rein the ocean, which lay more than 5 miles distant to the west. From early morning until late in the evening the old gulls were seen flying either toward the ocean or returning from it, their course being always the same. The birds traveled in companies of twos or threes, and while passing over the land barrier always sought an altitude which insured safety from any possible gunshot.

Behavior: The soaring flight of the great black-backed gull is majestic and grand in the extreme. It has been well likened to the flight of an eagle, for the resemblance to the king of birds is certainly striking, as it floats in great circles high above its rocky home, the monarch of its tribe. ‘When traveling its flight is slow and heavy, as might be expected in the largest of the gulls, but it is always strong, dignified, and protracted. Macgillivray (1852) writes:

Its flight is strong, ordinarily sedate, less wavering and buoyant than that of smaller species, but graceful, effective, and even majestic. There, running a few steps and flapping Its long wings, it springs into the air, wheels to either side, ascends, and on outspread and beautifully curved pinions hies sway to some distant place. In advancing against a strong breeze it sometimes proceeds straight forward, then shoots away in an oblique direction, now descends in a long curve so as almost to touch the water, then mounts on high. When it wheels about and sweeps down the wind its progress is extremly rapid. It walks with ease, using short steps, runs with considerable speed, and, like the other gulls, pats the sands or mud on the edge of the water with its feet. It generally rests standing on one foot, with its head drawn in; but in a dry place it often reposes by laying itself down.

Although usually silent elsewhere, it is a very noisy bird on its breeding grounds, indulging in a variety of loud, harsh cries or raven-like croaks. It has a long drawn-out scream – keeaaw-óon a lower key than that of the herring gull. It also has a short, more quickly uttered note – kow, ko, kow – very much like the other gulls; also a high pitched ki ki and a hoarse laughing ha, ha, ha. Its courtship note is softer and more prolonged, sounding at times like kowaat, but varied and modulated in a most human manner. Mr. Cleaves describes some of the vocal performances as follows:

There were few moments of the day or night when absolute silence prevailed in the colony. The sounds produced by the birds were varied, both in form and in volume, and ranging from the baby whine of the downy young to the great bellow or trumpet of a giant adult black-back standing above the lake on a 6-foot bowider. The calls intermediate between these two extremes were mostly variations of groans or kindred sounds, some of which were soft and to be heard only at short range. There were two cries, given perhaps with greater frequency than all others, which the writer can now recall with most distinctness. One was the mellow “kuk-kuk-kuk,” uttered when the birds were disturbed and far aloft over the islands; the other, the inspiring trumpeting bellow, emitted when the gulls were unmolested, and usually when standing on some prominence or on the open shore. Each syllable of the latter cry sounded like “oo” in “loon,” given slowly and with comparative softness at first, but repeated slightly more rapidly as the call proceeded and the syllables gaining volume until, at the end, when the sound had been uttered 8 to 14 times, the noise was tremendous at a range of only a few feet. The uproar caused by a chorus of 50 trumpeting gulls could no doubt be distinctly heard over the lake on an otherwise still morning at a range of a mile or more. In producing this bellowing call a bird usually began on the introductory notes with his head lowered, raising it as the call advanced, until, at the finish, his open bill pointed toward the zenith and his neck was inflated from the force of his challenge.”:

Mr. Cleaves relates in his notes the following interesting incident:

One pair of old birds, who apparently had hut a single chick of probably two weeks, engaged in a curious performance only 3 feet from the wall of the blind. Amid rumbling sounds and groanings from the parents and whining from the baby one of the old birds picked from the bench a dried fern leaf and waded slowly and with apparent gravity into the lake with it until he was belly deep in the water. He then stopped and thrust his bill and its contents beneath the surface, moving Ills head rather vigorously from side to side as he did so. The female (2) followed a few paces behind with empty beak, and when she was a little way from the shore she submerged her entire head, holding it below for two or three seconds. After withdrawing it she took a step or two forward (following the first bird) and then immersed her bead again. Throughout the entire ceremony the youngster whined, apparently for food, and waded as far in the wake of his elders as be could, with comfort, in the choppy waves. The bird carrying the fern then came slowly back to shore where his burden was dropped without further formality. Some minutes later, however, the same bird picked up a cast primary from the beach and reenacted almost the exact ceremony through which he had gone with the dead fern, and the other members of the family repeated their parts of the act also. Whether all of this was mere play or whether it Possessed a greater significance It would no doubt be difficult to determine.

Winter: A bout the middle of August, or as soon as the young are able to fly and care for themselves, these gulls leave their breeding grounds and wander about or start to migrate southward. They sometimes appear on the Massachusetts coast in August, though not regularly until September, where they are more or less common all winter until the second or third week in April. Dr. Charles W. Townsend (1905) records them as common on the coast of Essex County, Massachusetts, from July 17 to May 1, and says, “as early as July 17, 1904, I found seven adults in a flock of herring gulls on Ipswich Beach,” though these may have been summer stragglers and not migrants from their breeding grounds farther north. Their normal winter range extends from southern Greenland to Delaware, with straggling records farther south. While wintering on our coasts they associate freely with the herring gulls, with which they seem to be on good terms, feeding with them on what refuse they can pick up in our harbors or along the shores. They are practically silent and not nearly so tyrannical as on their breeding grounds, though they may occasionally be seen chasing the other gulls and robbing them of their food. Adult birds can, of course, be easily recognized and the superior size of the immature birds is distinctive. While roosting on a sand bar or on floating ice a black-backed gull always looms up large in a flock of herring gulls. They are exceedingly shy at this season, and it is useless to attempt to approach them in an open situation.

Breeding range: Coasts and islands of northeastern North America and northern Europe. In the Western Hemisphere, from North Devon Island and central western Greenland (Disco) southward, along both coasts of Labrador to eastern Quebec (Godbout), Anticosti Island, Newfoundland (Sandy Lake), Nova Scotia (Pietou, Halifax, and Kentville) and Bay of Fundy (Isle au Haute). In the Eastern Hemisphere, Iceland, Shetland, and Faroe Islands, Scotland, and northern Europe east to eastern Russia (Petchora River), and south to about 500 N.

Winter range: Regularly on the coast of the United States from Maine to New Jersey. More rarely north to southern Greenland and south to northern Florida (St. Augustine) and Bermuda. Occasionally south to Ohio (Columbus) and west to Michigan (Detroit) on the Great Lakes. In Europe from Great Britain south to the Azores and Canary Islands, the Mediterranean, and the Black Sea.

Spring migration: Early dates of arrival: Newfoundland, St. Johns, March 1; Labrador, Romaine, March 26, and Rigolet, April 9. Late dates of departure: New York, Long Island, May 13; Massachusetts, Boston, May 25, and Woods Hole, June 10. Nonbreeding birds linger on the coasts of New England late into or all through the summer.

Fall migration: Early dates of arrival, excluding summer stragglers: Massachusetts, Woods Hole, September 24 (average October 8); Long Island, Orient, September 12 (average October 5). Late dates of departures: Greenland, Gothaab, September 3; eastern Labrador, November 2; Prince Edward Island, November 12; Nova Scotia, Pictou, December 13.

Casual rccords: Accidental in Nebraska (Missouri River, May, 1871), Kerguelen Island (June 5, 1840), and Japan (Hakodadi).

Egg dates: Quebec, Labrador: Twenty records, May 25 to June 28; ten records, June 5 to 15. Nova Scotia: Fifteen records, May 15 to June 13; eight records, May 22 to 27. Great Britain: Eleven records, April 28 to July 20; six records, May 20 to June 1. Iceland: Three records, May 18 and 28, and June 6.

About the Author

Sam Crowe

Sam is the founder of He has been birding for over 30 years and has a world list of over 2000 species. He has served as treasurer of the Texas Ornithological Society, Sanctuary Chair of Dallas Audubon, Editor of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's "All About Birds" web site and as a contributing editor for Birding Business magazine. Many of his photographs and videos can be found on the site.

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