English and Scientific names:

Great Black-backed Gull

Larus marinus

Number of individuals: 

1 in first basic plumage


Locality: LOUISIANA: 

Lafourche Parish


Specific Locality:

Belle Pass


Date(s) when observed:

February 27, 2005




Time(s) of day when observed:  

10:15 a.m.


Reporting observer and address:

Phillip Wallace

New Orleans, LA



Other observers accompanying reporter who also identified the bird(s):

David Muth and Dan Purrington


Other observers who independently identified the bird(s):

Possibly seen on the Grand Isle Christmas Count.

Light conditions (position of bird in relation to shade and to direction and amount of light):

Good light; sun behind observers.

Optical equipment: 

Zeiss 10x40 binoculars


Distance to bird(s): 

10-15 yards

Duration of observation:

~15 minutes



Sandy beach at edge of Belle Pass about a quarter-mile from the Gulf.

Behavior of bird: 

Feeding, flying, fighting with other gulls over fish and refuse.




 Very large gull; significantly larger than adjacent Herring Gull. White head was large and blocky. Massive bill was all black. Upper parts were pale (white) with blackish speckling. The under parts were basically white with some streaking on the flanks. The tail was whitish with a dark subterminal band. The rectrices were quite worn at the tips, as shown when the tail was spread. In flight the wings did not show the pale windows at the base of the primaries typical of Herrings. The legs were pale (ivory colored) with pink tones.






Similar species:

The bird was a classic first basic Great Black-backed. The size eliminates other contenders. The all dark bill points to Great Black-backed. The tail pattern and absence of primary windows eliminate Herring.



Photographs or tape recordings obtained?

Stills grabbed from video submitted with this report. Video sent to LBRC.




Previous experience with this species: 

I've seen many times in LA and on the east coast.


Identification aids:


This description is written from: 

Notes taken the evening of the observation and from review of video.


Are you positive of your identification? If not, explain: 




Phillip Wallace


Date and time: 

March 23, 2005; 5:30 p.m.