Great Black-Headed Gull

Great Black-Headed Gull


Profile Great Black-Headed Gull
[order] Charadriiformes

[order] Charadriiformes | [family] Laridae | [latin] Larus ichthyaetus | [UK] Great Black-Headed Gull | [FR] Goéland ichthyaète | [DE] Fischmöwe | [ES] Gavión Cabecinegro | [IT] Gabbiano del Pallas | [NL] Reuzenzwartkopmeeuw

Reuzenzwartkopmeeuw determination

copyright: J. del Hoyo

Very large gull, with typical hooded appearance, black from face and throat to nape, with conspicuous white eye-crescents. Mantle pearl grey. Upperwing coverts very pale grey. Flight feathers mostly white, primaries with conspicuous black subterminal marks an white tips. Bill large, orange-yellow, becoming reddish distally, with subterminal black band and yellow tip. Legs greenish yellow, with orange webs. Iris brown, with thin red orbital ring.

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.

Larus ichthyaetus breeds patchily in Ukraine and southern European Russia, which
together account for less than a quarter of its global breeding range. Its European
breeding population is relatively small (10%) overall.

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 a large range, with an estimated global Extent of Occurrence of 1,000,000-10,000,000 km². It has a large global population estimated to be 97,000-220,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2002). Global population trends have not been quantified, but the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern. [conservation status from]

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.

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.


  1. Measurements
  2. spanwidth min.: 150 cm
  3. spanwidth max.: 170 cm
  4. size min.: 57 cm
  5. size max.: 61 cm
  6. Breeding
  7. incubation min.: 25 days
  8. incubation max.: 27 days
  9. fledging min.: 0 days
  10. fledging max.: 0 days
  11. broods 1
  12. eggs min.: 2
  13. eggs max.: 3
  14. Conservation Status
  15. Reuzenzwartkopmeeuw status Least Concern
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