Brown-headed Gull (Larus brunnicephalus)

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

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.

Brown-headed Gulls

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 Gull will scavenge in towns or take invertebrates (= animals without internal skeleton, such as insects, larvae, earthworms, millipedes, snails, spiders) in ploughed fields with equal relish.


The summer adult has a pale brown head, lighter than that of Black-headed, a pale grey body, and 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.

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 Gull is slightly larger than Black-headed Gull.

Photo of author

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