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Birdwatching in Africa - Grey-headed Gull, Chroicocephalus cirrocephalus, Grey-hooded Gull

The Grey-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus cirrocephalus), also known as the Grey-hooded Gull, is a small gull which breeds patchily in South America and Africa south of the Sahara. It is not truly migratory, but is more widespread in winter. This species has occurred as a rare vagrant to North America, Italy and Spain. As is the case with many gulls, it has traditionally been placed in the genus Larus.

This locally abundant gull breeds in large colonies in reedbeds and marshes, and lays two or three eggs in a nest, which can be on the ground or floating. Like most gulls, it is highly gregarious in winter, both when feeding and in evening roosts. Although it is predominantly coastal or estuarine, it is not a pelagic species, and is rarely seen at sea far from land.

Flocks numbering hundreds or thousands of these gulls can form when the feeding conditions are appropriate.

The grey-headed gull is slightly larger than the Black-headed Gull at 42 cm length. The summer adult has a pale grey head, a grey body, darker in tone than the black-headed, and red bill and legs. The black tips to the primary wing feathers have conspicuous white "mirrors". The underwing is dark grey with black wingtips. The grey hood is lost in winter, leaving just dark streaks.

Sexes are similar. The South American race is slightly larger and paler-backed than the African subspecies.

• C. c. cirrocephalus (Vieillot, 1818) – South America

• C. c. poliocephalus (William John Swainson, 1837) – Africa

This gull takes two years to reach maturity. First year birds have a black terminal tail band, and more dark areas in the wings.

In flight, the wings are broader and held flatter than those of Black-headed Gull.

This is a noisy species, especially at colonies. The call is a raucous crow-like caw, caw.

Range map from

Range map
Range map from - Ornithological Portal is one of those MUST visit pages if you're in to bird watching. You can find just about everything there

Grey-headed Gull, Chroicocephalus cirrocephalus, Grey-hooded Gull
Breeding (full tone) and non-breeding (shaded) distribution
of the Grey-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus cirrocephalus)
By Donkey shot - Own work, CC BY 3.0,

Length: 43 cm
Weight: 250 - 335 g
Distinctive Feature

Similar Species

From opus at the forum for wild birds and birding.
Female / Male

From opus at the forum for wild birds and birding.

Listen to the Grey-headed Gull

Remarks from the Recordist

One bird seen calling from a tall pole by some pans and a few others flew over towards the end of the sound clip.

Conservation status
Conservation status
Least Concern (IUCN 3.1)
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2016: e.T22694387A93451041.
doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22694387A93451041.en. Retrieved 14 January 2018.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sighted: 27 October 2019 (Date of first photo that I could use)
Location: Lake Ziway, Ethiopia

Grey-headed Gull, Chroicocephalus cirrocephalus, Grey-hooded Gull
Grey-headed Gull - 27 October 2019 - Lake Ziway, Ethiopia

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