Pallass Gull (Ichthyaetus ichthyaetus)

Pallass Gull

[order] CHARADRIIFORMES | [family] Laridae | [latin] Ichthyaetus ichthyaetus | [UK] Pallass Gull | [FR] Marouette de Kusaie | [DE] Fishmowe | [ES] Gavion Cabecinegro | [NL]


Monotypic species

Physical charateristics

A large gull which is about 70 cm in length. At rest, wings clearly extend beyond tail. Head has distinct shape; long sloping forehead rises to peak behind the eyes. In fl ight, wings appear more pointed, narrower and longer than other large gulls. In breeding season head and upper neck are black with two crescent white patches, one above and one below eye.

wingspan min.: 150 cm wingspan max.: 170 cm
size min.: 57 cm size max.: 61 cm
incubation min.: 25 days incubation max.: 27 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 0 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 3  


Eurasia : Central. Breeds in a few very small, scattered localities from Black Sea (Crimea) E to L Balkhash and spottily to NW Mongolia; possibly also N China (Gansu, Qinghai) and Tibet. Winters on coasts of E Mediterranean, Red Sea, S Caspian Sea and N Indian Ocean E to Myanmar; SC Ethiopia.


Breeds on barren islands in fresh and saline lakes and inland seas in generally arid areas, preferring saline soils. Outside breeding season coasts and major rivers, harbours, fish ponds, rubbish dumps.


Lays from early April in colonies up to 3000 pairs, sometimes near but not among L. argentatus. Colonies often dense, with nest rims 40 cm apart, especially in center of colony. Nest of dried aquatic plants and feathers, often on bare rock substrate, sometimes among reeds or other vegetation, or vegetated sand dunes. Clutch size 2 eggs, incubation 25 days, female sitting for longer spells than male. Chick creamy buff of silvery white. First breeding usually not until 4 years.

Feeding habits

Main diet based on fish and crustaceans, as well as insects, small mammals, birds, eggs and reptiles. In cooler weather eats seeds. Frequently piratical on a variety of species. Follows fishing boats and takes fish offal in harbours. One of most solitary gulls. Often flies long distances from colonies to feed aerially on swarming insects.


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). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to 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.
Pallass Gull status Least Concern


Migratory; details little known. Occurs locally in winter in Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan, and common then on Iranian Caspian. Other important wintering areas in Persian Gulf, eastern Arabian Sea, and Bay of Bengal reached by overland migration. Rare migrant and winter visitor to Turkey, and fairly common in northern Israel. Regular winter visitor to inland Ethiopian lakes, especially lake Abiata and lakes and coast further south.

Distribution map

Pallass Gull distribution range map

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