Brown-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus brunnicephalus)

Brown-headed Gull

[order] CHARADRIIFORMES | [family] Laridae | [latin] Chroicocephalus brunnicephalus | [UK] Brown-headed Gull | [FR] Mouette du Tibet | [DE] Braunkopfmowe | [ES] Gaviota Centroasiatica | [NL]


Monotypic species

Physical charateristics

The bird is about 42 cm in length and both the sexes are alike. The under parts are pale grey. The legs and feet are red in colour. The bill is orange-red with black tip. During the breeding season the head is dark brown and in non-breeding season head is white with a vertical black crescent mark near earcoverts.

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 41 cm size max.: 43 cm
incubation min.: 22 days incubation max.: 26 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 0 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 4  


Eurasia : Central. Mountains of SC Asia, between 3000 m and at least 4500 m: Turkestan and W Xinjiang E to SE Gansu, and S to Pamirs (L Kara-Kul), Ladakh and Tibet. Winters on coasts of India, N Sri Lanka and SE Asia, sparingly W to Arabian Peninsula.


This is a gregarious bird found in open water bodies, marshes and rivers. The bird breeds in colonies along with Bar-headed Goose in islands in high altitude wetlands.


Breeds in colonies of about 50 pairs. Nests are built in close proximity, made out of plants stems. Nests in wet habitat larger than on land. Incubation period probably 3-4 weeks, clutch size usually 3 eggs.

Feeding habits

This is a bold and opportunist feeder, which will scavenge in towns or take invertebrates in ploughed fields with equal relish.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Brown-headed Gull status Least Concern


Migrates over mountains to coasts of S Asia; fairly common in Nepal, where some remain to winter. Known to migrate through Hebei, Shanxi and Inner Mongolia also to India, Gulf of Thailand and SE Asia, where often common close inshore and inland. Abundant in winter on Sambhar L (Rajasthan). Less numerous on large rivers.

Distribution map

Brown-headed Gull distribution range map

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