Brown-headed Gull

Brown-headed Gull   Chroicocephalus brunnicephalus


  • Chroicocephalus : Greek word khroizo– to colour, to stain; kephalos -headed
  • Brunnicephalus : Latin word brunneus – brown; Greek word  kephalos -headed

Vernacular Names:  Hindi: Bhuri ganga chilli, Sans: Babhru shirsha gangachilli, hindi,Pun: Bhurasir-damra, Guj: Dhomdo, Ladakhi dhomado, Mar: Tapkiri dokyacha Kurav, Ori: Hansaraali (for all gulls and terns), Ta: Kadal kagam, Te: Gourukaki, Mal: Kadalpatta, Sinh: Muhudu kaputa

Distribution in India:  Breeds in Ladhak, widespread winter visitor in India.

Description: Size of 41–45 cm; wt. of 450–714 g; wingspan of 105–115 cm. The solid black wing-tip is characteristic in all plumages. In adults the broad white primary bases contrast with the grey upperwing and black wing-tip. Breeding adult has the hood pale brown, becoming blackish at nape, forming an indistinct collar, narrow white eye-crescents towards rear; mantle, back and inner part of wing grey, outer wing-coverts white; primaries white at base, broadly black distally, with white windows on outer 2; bill bright red, with dusky tip; legs bright to dark red; iris pale yellow or greyish, with narrow red orbital ring.  Non-breeding adult has pale grey head with grey-brown marks around eye, on ear-coverts, and often across crown; in winter crown becomes pale grey, cheeks and throat white. The immature has solid black primaries with white bases; underwing is grey; bill is yellowish with dusky tip; legs are orange.

Habitat: It is found in breeding season in islands in large, cold, high altitude lakes of varying salinity, or in adjacent marshes at 3000–4000 m.In the non-breeding season it frequents coasts, coastal wetlands, estuaries and rivers.

Food Habits: It eats fish, shrimps, insects, grubs, slugs, earthworms, sewage, potatoes, rodents and plant shoots; occasionally winged termites. In winter, associates with fishing boats and consumes refuse. Often feeds in shallow water, by immersing head and neck. It catches termites by aerial hawking.

Breeding Habits: They breed in March- June in Europe. It is a colony breeder and makes a nest that is usually close together. The nest is made of masses of plant stems; large, bulky nests built in marshes, smaller nests on land. It lays a clutch of 1-3 eggs. The incubation is done by both sexes, either equally or with female doing more of the work for a period of 22-24 days. The fledging period is 24 days.