Brown-headed Gull Larus brunnicephalus


Justification of Red List Category
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Population justification
Wetlands International (2018) estimate the population at 100,000-200,000 individuals.

Trend justification
Although Wetlands International consider the current population trend to be unknown, it is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats (del Hoyo et al. 1996).

Distribution and population

The breeding range of the Brown-headed Gull is the mountains of south-central Asia from Turkestan in the west, south-west Gansu (China) in the east, and the Pamirs and Tibet in the south. It winters on the coast of India, northern Sri Lanka and south-east Asia, and sparingly to the west of India up to the Arabian Peninsula (del Hoyo et al. 1996).


This species breeds on islands in large, cold high altitude lakes of varying salinity or in neighbouring marshes, frequenting coasts and rivers outside the breeding season which begins in May. Colonies form from 50 pairs up to several thousand. It feeds on fish, shrimps and offal when wintering, and has a large diet including rodents, sewage, grubs, slugs and earthworms during the breeding season (del Hoyo et al. 1996).


At present there are no factors thought to pose a genuine threat to this species.


Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Calvert, R., Ekstrom, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Species factsheet: Larus brunnicephalus. Downloaded from on 26/07/2021. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2021) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 26/07/2021.