Pallas’s Gull

Pallas’s Gull    Ichthyaetus ichthyaetus


  • Ichthyaetus : Greek word  ikhthus – fish ; aetos –eagle
  • Ichthyaetus : Greek word  ikhthus – fish ; aetos –eagle

Vernacular Names:  Hindi: Bada Dhomra, Mirshikars: Kheir, Guj: Moto kala mathano dhomdo, Moto dhomado, Te: Gourukaki, Mar: Palas cha Kurav

Distribution in India:  Winter visitor in coastal India and parts of North.

Description: Size of 59-72 cm; wt. of 900–2000g; wingspan of 150–172 cm. It is one of the largest gulls. It is characteristically flat-crowned, with a long, slender, heavy bill, giving a triangular head shape.  It is deep-breasted with longer, slenderer and more pointed wings than other large gulls. It has a ponderous flight that is heron-like. The breeding adult has 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 and 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. The non-breeding adult has white head with dusky area around eye, over ear-coverts and hindcrown.  The juvenile is dark brown above with prominent pale fringes, greyish-brown on head and breast-sides and very pale below. The tail is white with black terminal bar; legs are fleshy, bill greyish with diffuse black tip. The first winter has whiter head with dark mask, similar to non-breeding adult, but dark brown flight-feathers contrast with grey mantle and black tail band; bill is yellowish with dark subterminal band. Tail-band is retained during second year but is often incomplete; upperwing grey with broad black tip; second-summer may develop a full black hood.

Habitat: It is found in coasts and major rivers. It is attracted to anthropogenic food sources such as harbours, fish ponds and rubbish dumps.

Food Habits: It eats small fish, crustaceans, as well as insects, small mammals, birds, eggs and reptiles. Follows fishing boats; takes fish  in harbours. Often flies long distances from colonies to feed aerially on swarming insects.

Breeding Habits: They breed in April- June in southern Russia to Mongolia. It breeds in colonies on barren islands in fresh and saline lakes and inland seas in generally arid areas.. The nest is made of dried aquatic plants and feathers, often on bare rock substrate, sometimes among reeds or other vegetation, or vegetated sand dunes. They lay a clutch of 1-3 eggs. The incubation period is 24-25 days, female sitting for longer spells than the male. The fledging period is 30-40 days.