Thai National Parks

Birds of Thailand

Species of Thailand

Heuglin's gull

In Thai: นกนางนวลหลังดำพันธุ์รัสเซีย, nok naang nuan lang dam phan Rusia

Binomial name: Larus heuglini, Charles Robert Bree, 1876

Heuglin's gull (Larus fuscus heuglini) or the Siberian gull, is a seabird in the genus Larus. It is sometimes considered as a separate species (Larus heuglini) but is now usually treated as a subspecies of the lesser black-backed gull.

Birds in the eastern part of Heuglin's gull's range are often paler grey above and sometimes considered to be a separate subspecies Larus fuscus taimyrensis (Taimyr gull). It is possible that they are a result of hybridization between Heuglin's gulls and Vega gulls.

Heuglin's gulls breed in the tundra of northern Russia from the Kola Peninsula east to the Taymyr Peninsula. They are regularly reported from Finland and may breed there. They migrate south to winter in Southwest Asia, the Indian Subcontinent, East Asia, and East Africa. Small numbers are seen in Southeast Asia, it has been recorded in South Africa and it may occur as a vagrant in Western Europe.

They are large gulls with a rounded head, strong bill and long legs and wings. Length is from 53 to 70 cm, wingspan is from 138 to 158 cm and body mass is from 745 to 1360 g. Among standard measurements, the wing chord is 40.5 to 46.9 cm, the bill is 4.5 to 6.5 cm and the tarsus is 5.9 to 7.8 cm. The back and wings are dark grey, variable in shade but often similar to the graelsii race of the slightly smaller lesser black-backed gull. In winter the head is only lightly streaked with brown but there is heavier streaking on the hindneck. The legs are usually yellow but can be pink.

Moulting takes place later than in most of their relatives so birds still have unstreaked heads and worn primaries in September and October. The primary feathers may not be fully grown until February or March when the head is still streaked.

They feed mainly on molluscs, worms, and crustaceans.

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Scientific classification

Larus heuglini

Common names

  • Thai: นกนางนวลหลังดำพันธุ์รัสเซีย, nok naang nuan lang dam phan Rusia

Conservation status

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)

Range Map