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Great Black-headed Gull (Larus ichthyaetus)

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[edit] Great Black-headed Gull (Larus ichthyaetus) Pallas, 1773

[edit] Taxonomy

The Great Black headed Gull is considered as the one of the largest gull, they belongs to Family Laridae and Genus Larus. It’s also known as Pallas’s Gull.

Class: Aves
Order: Charadriiformes
Family: Laridae
Genus: Larus
Species: Larus ichthyaetus, Pallas, 1773


[edit] Distribution

The Great Black headed Gull is migratory. They recently found to migrate through Red Sea to islands and Ethiopian Rift Valley. Some movement W to Meddle East and E Mediterranean (Israel), where apparently much scarcer now than 50 years ago. Immature may remain in wintering range. Winters mainly on S Caspian Sea, with smaller numbers in Israel, Ethiopia, Persian Gulf, S Iran, Pakistan, India and Myanmar.


[edit] Physical Characteristics

The Great Black headed Gull is one of the largest gulls, averaging nearly as large as Great Black-backed Gull. 60-70 cm, 900-2000 g, wingspan 155-170 cm. Its appearance is typical with its black cap. The face and the throat to the nape of the neck are black, with an ocular crescent white visible good. The coat is gray beads. The higher covers of the wings are gray very clear. The external half of the wings is rather white; the primary educations have black marks and the white ends. The beak is large and powerful, yellow orange, becoming reddish halfway, with a black band and the yellow end. The legs are yellow greenish, with the orange palms. The iris is brown, with a fine red orbital circle. In winter; the head is black, usually with a shade sunk around the eyes which contrasts with the white ocular crescents. In flight, one can see his wings narrower than at the majority of the seagulls, and the drawings black and white at the end of the regimes external. The head appears prominent. The tail is white.


[edit] Habitat

The Great Black headed Gull breeds at the edge of the inland seas, on arid regions, islands located on fresh or salted water lakes, with a preference for the salted grounds. Apart from the period of reproduction, one finds it on the coasts and the large rivers, in the ports, piscicultures and the discharges. It is migrating rather common to Nepal, at sea Rouge, in the valley of the rift in Ethiopia. It rather spends the winter on the Caspian Sea, and one sees some in Israel of them, in Ethiopia, in the Persian Gulf, in the south of Iran, Pakistan and the Indies.


[edit] Diet

Main diet based on fish and crustaceans, as well as insects, small mammals, birds, eggs and reptiles. In cooler weather eats seeds. Frequently piratical on a variety of species. Follows fishing boats and takes fish offal in harbors. One of most solitary gulls. Often flies long distances from colonies to feed aerially on swarming insects. They nourish primarily fish and shellfish.


[edit] Behavior

Great Black headed Gull likes enough “to pirate” the other species. It follows the fishing vessels and steals the fish scrap in the ports. It is one of the most solitary seagulls. It often flies on long distances to nourish itself, while passing through the colonies of insects. Great Black headed Gull is rather calm apart from the period of reproduction. In flight, it emits a bottom “kyow-kyow”, or a nasillard “kraggh”. They have a slow and balanced flight.


[edit] Breeding

Breeding of Great Black headed Gull starts at the beginning of April. Great Black headed Gull breeds in colonies of more than 3000 couples, sometimes close to the herring gulls (larus argentatus) but not among them. The colonies are dense, with nests every 40 cm, especially in the center of the colony. The nest is on the ground, made with dry watery plants and feathers, often on stripped rocks, sometimes between the reeds or the vegetation, or on the sand of the dunes. The female deposits 2 eggs. Incubation lasts approximately 25 days, especially ensured by the female which is more present than the male. Chicks have their complete plumage at the end of approximately 55 days. They reach their sexual maturity at the 4 years age.


[edit] References

  • The gulls (Laridae) of the world : their plumages, moults, variations, relationships and distribution. Bulletin of the AMNH ; v. 52, article 3.
  • The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: James F. Clements, Jared Diamond, John W. Fitzpatrick.
  • Wetlands International Waterbird Population Estimates - Fourth Edition.
  • Ali, S. & Ripley, D. (1964-74 ) Handbook of the Birds of India & Pakistan (Vols. 1-10). Bombay: OUP
  • Grimmet, R Inskipp, T., & Inskipp, C. (1998) Birds of the Indian Subcontinent. UK: A&C Black.
  • Inskipp, T. et al. (1996) An Annotated Checklist of the Birds of the Oriental Region. Sandy, UK: OBC.
  • Kazmierczak, K. & van Perlo, B. (2000) A Field-Guide to the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent. UK: Pica Press
  • BirdLife International (2004
  • IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006
  • Harrison, Peter (1988): Seabirds (2nd edition). Christopher Helm, London
  • Peterson, R.T., Mountfort, G. & Hollom, P.A.D. (1993) Collins Field Guide- Birds of Britain and Europe.


Arpit Deomurari
Consultant (Environment, GIS and IT)
[email protected]