White-eyed gull -- 白眼鸥 (Larus leucophthalmus)

White-eyed gull at nest
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White-eyed gull fact file

White-eyed gull description

GenusLarus (1)

This gull species can be identified by its black head and upper breast, dark back and dark grey wings. The brown eyes are surrounded by a red ring and have a white crescent both above and beneath them. The bill is slender, red, and droops slightly to the black tip. The legs are bright yellow. When juvenile, this species has a paler head, streaked neck, and spotted throat (2).

Goéland à iris blanc.
Length: 39 – 43 cm (2)
Wingspan: 110 – 115 cm (2)
275 – 415 g (2)

White-eyed gull biology

This species forms loose colonies of between six and several hundred pairs, but usually around 25 pairs. They nest on bare rock and sand, lining a shallow scrape with seaweed and debris. Laying two to three eggs in July, the chicks of the white-eyed gull hatch by August. They are greyish brown above with dark spots and streaks below. Details of incubation and fledging periods have not yet been recorded (2).

The white-eyed gull consumes mainly fish, but will also take crabs, molluscs and worms and even some fruits. It plunge-dives at the water surface, far out to sea, and may also scavenge in harbours. It has been known to gather into foraging flocks of hundreds or even thousands of individuals (2).


White-eyed gull range

Found in the Red Sea from the Gulf of Suez and Gulf of Aqaba to the Gulf of Aden (2), the white-eyed gull breeds in Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Somalia. The wintering birds migrate within the breeding range (4).

See this species on Google Earth.


White-eyed gull habitat

The white-eyed gull breeds on inshore islands on bare rock and sand flats. It ranges far out to sea in the non-breeding season and when feeding during breeding season (2).


White-eyed gull status

The white-eyed gull is classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List 2004 (1) and is listed on Appendices I and II of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS or Bonn Convention) (3).

IUCN Red List species status – Near Threatened


White-eyed gull threats

This species is thought to be threatened by collection of eggs and chicks as well as disturbance. The tourism industry has decreased the area available to breeding gulls and has resulted in lower reproductive success. Oil spills and exploration for oil sources also threaten this species (2).


White-eyed gull conservation

The true status of the species is very poorly known and there is no targeted conservation action (2).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

Find out more

For further information on this species see Del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. & Sargatal, J. (1992) Handbook of the Birds of the World Volume 3 Hoatzin to Auks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.

For more information on this and other bird species please see:



This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact: arkive@wildscreen.org.uk


  1. IUCN Red List (June, 2005)
  2. Sargatal, J., Elliott, A. and Del Hoyo, J. (1992) Handbook of the Birds of the World Volume 3 Hoatzin to Auks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
  3. CMS (June, 2005)
  4. BirdLife International (June, 2005)

Image credit

White-eyed gull at nest  
White-eyed gull at nest

© Yossi Eshbol / www.flpa-images.co.uk

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