Brown-headed Gulls

Brown-headed Gulls (Larus brunnicephalus)

The Brown-headed Gulls (Larus brunnicephalus) is a small Asian gull frequently observed in noisy colonies.

Brown-headed Gull Standing On The Surface Of The Water
Brown-headed Gull Standing On The Surface Of The Water

Distribution / Range

It breeds in the high plateaux of central Asia from Turkmenistan to Mongolia.

This migratory bird winters on the coasts and large inland lakes of tropical southern Asia.

Distribution / Range

This gull breeds in colonies in large reedbeds or marshes, or on islands in lakes, nesting on the ground. It is rarely seen at sea far from coasts.

Diet / Feeding

The Brown-headed Gulls will scavenge in towns or take invertebrates (= animals without internal skeletons, such as insects, larvae, earthworms, millipedes, snails, and spiders) in plowed fields with equal relish.


The summer adult has a pale brown head, lighter than that of a Black-headed, a pale grey body, and a red bill and legs. The black tips to the primary wing feathers have conspicuous white “mirrors”. The underwing is grey with black flight feathers. The brown hood is lost in winter, leaving just dark vertical streaks.

A Flying Brown-headed Gull
A Flying Brown-headed Gull

This bird takes two years to reach maturity. First-year birds have a black terminal tail band, more dark areas in the wings, and, in summer, a less homogeneous hood.

Brown-headed Gulls are slightly larger than Black-headed Gulls.

Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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