Monday, April 17

Pallas's gull

   ›      ›   Pallas's gull - Ichthyaetus ichthyaetus

The Pallas's gull (Ichthyaetus ichthyaetus) is a large gull, belonging to the family Laridae.

The Pallas's gull species are distributed in the Indian subcontinent, West Asia, Middle East, Central Asia, Myanmar and northeast Africa. These species are also known as great black-headed gulls. These gulls are monotypic species.

Overview & Quick Facts Description & Identification
Pictures of Pallas's Gull Distribution & Range
Ecosystem & Habitat Diet & Feeding Behavior
Breeding Habits Migration & Movement Patterns
Conservation & Survival IUCN Status
Taxonomy & Classification Bird World

Pallas's gull - Overview

  • Scientific name: Ichthyaetus ichthyaetus
  • Species author: (Pallas, 1773)
  • Synonyms/Protonym: Larus Ichthyaetus Pallas, 1773,
  • Family: Laridae › Charadriiformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Vernacular names: English: Pallas's gull, Chinese: 渔鸥, French: Goéland ichthyaète, German: Fischmöwe, Spanish: Gavión cabecinegro, Russian: Черноголовый хохотун, Japanese: オオズグロカモメ, Malay: Burung Camar Kepala Hitam Besar
  • Other names: Great Black-headed Gull
  • Distribution: Indian subcontinent, West Asia, Middle East, Central Asia, Myanmar, northeast Africa
  • Diet and feeding habits: fish, shrimp, crabs, large insects, small mammals, birds, eggs, reptiles
  • IUCN status listing: Least Concern (LC)
The Pallas's gull (Ichthyaetus ichthyaetus) is closely related to relict gull(Ichthyaetus relictus), Mediterranean gull (Ichthyaetus melanocephalus), sooty gull (Ichthyaetus hemprichii), white-eyed gull (Ichthyaetus leucophthalmus) and Audouin's gull (Ichthyaetus audouinii).

Appearance, physical description and identification

The Pallas's gull (Ichthyaetus ichthyaetus) is a very large gull, measuring 60 to 70 cm in length and weighing 900 to 2000 grams. The wingspan is 155 to 170 cm.

The summer Pallas's gull adults have black hood. The back and the wings are gray in adults. The wing tips have white flashes. In sub-adults the hood region is mottled gray and white. There is a small white patch above and below the eyes.

The irises are black. The bill is yellowish orange. In adults the base of the bill is blackish and merges with the black hood. The tip of the bill is red.

The legs are yellow and the feet are webbed. The call of the Pallas's gull is a hoarse, deep “aah..aaah" or "aarh..aaarh” sound.
Indian birds - Picture of Pallas's gull - Ichthyaetus ichthyaetus
Birds of India - Image of Pallas's gull - Ichthyaetus ichthyaetus by Dmitry Mikhirev

Birds of India - Photo of Pallas's gull - Ichthyaetus ichthyaetus
Indian birds - Picture of Pallas's gull - Ichthyaetus ichthyaetus by Dmitry Mikhirev

Indian birds - Image of Pallas's gull - Ichthyaetus ichthyaetus
Birds of India - Photo of Pallas's gull - Ichthyaetus ichthyaetus by Dmitry Mikhirev

Origin, geographical range and distribution

The Pallas's gull species are distributed in the Indian subcontinent, West Asia, Middle East, Central Asia, Myanmar and northeast Africa. The breeding range is distributed over marshes and islands in southern Ukraine, southern Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, northeast China and Mongolia.

The wintering range of Pallas's gull is distributed on the coasts of the eastern Mediterranean, Red Sea, Gulf of Persia, south Caspian Sea, Arabian sea, north Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal.

The wintering range of Pallas's gull is also distributed in the Indus river plains in Pakistan, Gangetic plains in north India, across central India from east coast (Brahmapur and Cuttack) to west coast (Mumbai and Surat) and Ayeyarwady river plains and coast of Myanmar.

The Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA) of the Pallas's gull in Iran are Monde Protected Area, Miankaleh Peninsula and Gorgan Bay. The IBA in Mongolia are Khar Us Lake and Uvs Lake. The IBA in Oman are Al Batinah coast, Barr al Hikman and Ras al Hadd.

The Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA) of the Pallas's gull in Uzbekistan are Tuyabuguz Reservoir, Khorezm Fish Farm and adjacent lakes. The IBA in Ukraine are Syvash Bay and Kinburns'kyj peninsula.

The IBA of Pallas's gull in Kazakhstan are Delta of the Ural River, Zhumay-Mayshukyr Lake System, Teniz-Karakamys Lakes, Lake Alakol Islands, Kulykol-Taldykol Lake System, Naurzum State Nature Reserve, Korgalzhyn State Nature Reserve, Irgiz-Turgay Lakes and Vicinity of Korgalzhyn village.

The IBA of Pallas's gull in Russia are Yeiski salt-lakes, Chanovskaya lake system, Kurnikov liman, Elbanskye islands, Kiziltash limans, Beglitskaya sand-spit, Khanskoye Lake, Dadynskiye lakes, Ivan-Karaul island, Delta of the Kuban' river and Delta of the River Don.

Ecosystem and habitat

These Pallas's gull species do not normally occur in forest. These species occur in altitudes from 0 to 100 meters. The artificial ecosystem of these species includes aquaculture ponds, water storage areas and urban areas.

The natural ecosystems of these Pallas's gull species includes marine lakes, brackish lakes, estuaries, shallow seas with growth of macroalgae like kelp and seagrass, coastal freshwater lakes, sandy, rocky and shingly beaches and shorelines, rivers, streams, creeks, marshes and temperate shrubland.

Diet and feeding behavior

The diet of these Pallas's gull species is mostly fish. Insects, fish, dead fish, crustaceans and small mammals are their primary food. They are known to prey on nesting birds, their chicks and eggs.

These Pallas's gulls feed aerially on swarms of insects. They scavenge from fishing boats, harbors and garbage dumps. They also feed on small reptiles and plant seeds.

Reproduction and breeding habits

The breeding season of these Pallas's gull species from April onwards. They breed in colonies in a few small locations like barren islands or islets in their breeding grounds. Colonies of 10 to 3000 pairs have been observed. Distinctive courtship displays have been observed.

Though these Pallas's gull species may breed in single pairs, they do not nest solitarily and nest with other gulls. Their nest is a shallow scrape or depression on open ground, bare rock, sand dune or among scrub vegetation. The typical clutch contains 2 to 4 cream colored spotted eggs.

Migration and movement patterns

These Pallas's gull species are fully migratory birds.

These gull species breed in colonies in the marshes and islands in southern Ukraine, southern Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, northeast China and Mongolia. They arrive at the breeding range by the end of March and return to the wintering ranges by October.

These gulls winter on the coasts of the eastern Mediterranean, Red Sea, Gulf of Persia, south Caspian Sea, Arabian sea, north Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal. They also winter in the Indus river plains in Pakistan, Gangetic plains in north India and Myanmar. Some juveniles may stay back in their wintering range during summer and wander in the range as nomads.

Conservation and survival

The global population size of the Pallas's gull (Ichthyaetus ichthyaetus) is estimated around 125,000 to 1,100,000 individual birds. The overall population trend of these gull species is considered to be increasing. Throughout its range it is reported to be rare to common. The generation length is 12.4 years. Their distribution size is about 4,450,000 sq.km.

The Pallas's gull (Ichthyaetus ichthyaetus) does not approach the thresholds for being Vulnerable, either under the range size criterion, or under the population trend criterion or under the population size criterion. Predation by mammals in the breeding range and susceptibility to avian influenza are the main threats that may endanger the survival of these gull species.

IUCN and CITES status

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated the species and has listed it as of "Least Concern". The CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) status is ‘Not Evaluated’ for the Pallas's gull (Ichthyaetus ichthyaetus).
Taxonomy and scientific classification of Ichthyaetus ichthyaetus
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Aves
Order:Charadriiformes
Family:Laridae
Subfamily:-
Genus:Ichthyaetus
Species:I. ichthyaetus
Binomial name:Ichthyaetus ichthyaetus
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern
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1.Pallas's gull Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Larus_ichtyaetus_4.png (cropped)
Image author: Dmitry Mikhirev | License : CC BY-SA 4.0
2.Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Larus_ichtyaetus_1.png (cropped)
Image author: Dmitry Mikhirev | License : CC BY-SA 4.0
3.Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Larus_ichtyaetus_2.png (cropped)
Image author: Dmitry Mikhirev | License : CC BY-SA 4.0
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