Thai National Parks

Birds of Thailand

Species of Thailand

Pallas's gull

Thai: นกนางนวลหัวดำใหญ่, nok naang nuan hua dam yai

Binomial name: Ichthyaetus ichthyaetus, Peter Simon Pallas, 1773

The Pallas's gull or great black-headed gull (Ichthyaetus ichthyaetus) is a large gull. As is the case with many gulls, it has traditionally been placed in the genus Larus.

This species breeds in colonies in marshes and islands from southern Russia to Mongolia. It is migratory, wintering in the eastern Mediterranean, Arabia and India. This gull nests on the ground, laying between two and four eggs.

It occurs in western Europe only as a rare vagrant. In Great Britain a recent review left a single occurrence in 1859 as the only acceptable record of this bird. The species also occurs as a vagrant in differing parts of the Indian Ocean, south of its normal range, and along the northern and eastern coasts of Africa, where it visits annually on an irregular basis.

This is a very large gull, being easily the world's largest black-headed gull and the third largest species of gull in the world, after the great black-backed gull and the glaucous gull. It measures 55 - 72 cm in length with a 142 to 170 cm wingspan. Weight can vary from 0.96 - 2.1 kg, with an average of 1.6 kg in males and 1.22 kg in females. Among standard measurements, the wing chord is 43.5 to 52 cm, the bill is 4.7 to 7.3 cm and the tarsus is 6.5 to 8.4 cm. Summer adults are unmistakable, since no other gull of this size has a black hood. The adults have grey wings and back, with conspicuous white "mirrors" at the wing tips. The legs are yellow and the bill is red.

In all other plumages, a dark mask through the eye indicates the vestiges of the hood. The call is a deep aargh cry. Young birds attain largely grey upperparts quite rapidly, but they take four years to reach maturity.

These birds are predatory, taking fish, crustaceans, insects and even small mammals.

The Pallas's gull is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.

This bird has a deep, rather nasal flight-call which resembles the call of the lesser black-backed gull. Although they are noisy at colonies, Pallas's gulls are mostly silent when breeding.

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Videos of Pallas's gull

  • Pallas's gull

    Pallas's gull

  • Pallas's gull

    Pallas's gull

  • Pallas's gull

    Pallas's gull

Scientific classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Aves
Order
Charadriiformes
Family
Laridae
Genus
Ichthyaetus
Species
Ichthyaetus ichthyaetus

Common names

  • Thai: นกนางนวลหัวดำใหญ่, nok naang nuan hua dam yai

Synonyms

  • Larus ichthyaetus

Conservation status

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)

Distribution map of Pallas's gull, Ichthyaetus ichthyaetus in Thailand
  • Amphawa District, Samut Songkhram
  • Bang Pu Recreation Centre
  • Bueng Boraped Non-hunting Area
  • Chiang Saen District, Chiang Rai
  • Laem Pak Bia
  • Mueang Samut Sakhon District, Samut Sakhon
  • Mueang Samut Songkhram District, Samut Songkhram
  • Pak Thale

Range map of Ichthyaetus ichthyaetus in Thailand

Important note; our range maps are based on limited data we have collected. The data is not necessarily accurate or complete.

Special thanks to Ton Smits, Parinya Pawangkhanant, Ian Dugdale and many others for their contribution for range data.

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