Family Gulls, Terns, Skimmers (Laridae)

Least Concern

Sooty Gull (Larus hemprichii)


French: Goéland de Hemprich German: Hemprichmöwe Spanish: Gaviota cejiblanca
Other common names: Hemprich's Gull

Larus (Adelarus) hemprichii


, 1853,

Red Sea


Some recent authors place this species and other “black-headed gulls” in genus Ichthyaetus (see L. ichthyaetus). Morphometrically linked with L. leucophthalmus. Monotypic.


Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, and Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman, E to S Pakistan and S to NE Kenya (Kiunga Is); in winter S to N Mozambique.

Descriptive notes

43–48 cm; 400–510 g; wingspan 105–118 cm. A distinctive dark gull, with long legs and a long bicoloured bill.  It resembles the White-eyed Gull ... read more


Courtship calls comprise a goose-like, repeated "gar gar". Also gives a wailing "corr-ga" on a... read more


Maritime, mainly occurring and breeding along coasts and on islands. Hardly ever seen inland but... read more

Food and feeding

Mainly consumes dead fish and offal; also tern eggs and chicks, and turtle hatchlings. Opportunistic; scavenges along shoreline, usually... read more


A summer breeder, laying in June at Hurghada (NW Red Sea) and off Eritrea (S Red Sea), June–September in Pakistan, July–October... read more


Many remain in the Red Sea throughout the year although very few reach the northern part and the... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). The size of the global population remains unknown but is estimated to be within the range of 150,000–300,000 individuals. ... read more

Recommended citation

Burger, J., Gochfeld, M., Kirwan, G.M. & Garcia, E.F.J. (2020). Sooty Gull (Larus hemprichii). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 28 February 2020).