Bird O'clock

Discover the Fascinating World of Brown-Hooded Gulls: Behavior Conservation and Adaptation

Birding or birdwatching is a fascinating pastime that requires one to have a keen sense of observation and a love for nature. For beginners, identifying bird species can be quite challenging, but with practice and knowledge, it can become a rewarding experience.

In this article, we will focus on one bird species, the Brown-Hooded Gull (Chroicocephalus maculipennis),which is a common sight along the coasts of Argentina, Chile, and Peru. We will explore their identification, plumages and molts, and the similarities and differences to other species.


The Brown Hooded Gull derives its name from the brown hood on its head, which sets it apart from other gulls. It is a small to medium-sized gull, measuring approximately 37-48 cm with a wingspan of 96-118 cm.

Adults have gray wings with white tips, and their legs and bill are red. Juveniles lack the brown hood and have buff feathering on their upperparts.



In the field, the Brown-Hooded Gull can be easily distinguished from other gulls by its brown hood or cap. In flight, pay attention to the size and shape of the bird, the gray wings with white tips, and the red bill and legs.

Similar Species

The Brown-Hooded Gull is commonly confused with the Grey-Hooded Gull, which has a similar brown hood, but its bill and legs are yellow. The Olrog’s Gull also shares some similarities, but it has a smaller body and a shorter bill.


Like many gull species, the Brown-Hooded Gull has different plumages depending on its age and time of year.

Adult- During breeding season, the head is very dark brown, and the body is white, with gray wings and a black-tipped bill and red legs.

Sub-Adult- These birds have a paler head with a spotted or speckled pattern.

Juvenile- These birds lack the brown hood and have dark, mottled upperparts.

They are also paler than adults and have dusky markings on their underparts.


Birds periodically molt to replace old or damaged feathers, which help them maintain their feather characteristics. During molting, the Brown-Hooded Gull changes from its breeding plumage to its non-breeding plumage.

Juvenile birds and sub-adults also molt into their adult plumage. It is critical to study all plumage stages to avoid confusion and correctly identify the Brown-Hooded Gull.

In conclusion, observing and identifying the Brown-Hooded Gull requires a keen eye for detail and a fundamental understanding of bird biology. Learning about the plumage and molting stages is essential in distinguishing it from other similar species.

Birdwatching is a conservation effort that helps protect vulnerable bird species by understanding their behaviors and habitats. Take an interest in birdwatching and be part of the movement to protect our feathered friends in their natural habitats.

, but will end with a call to action for readers to support conservation efforts for the species.

Systematics History

The Brown-Hooded Gull (Chroicocephalus maculipennis) is a species of gull within the family Laridae. Its scientific classification has evolved over time, as scientists have refined their understanding of its unique characteristics and relationships with related species.

Geographic Variation

The Brown-Hooded Gull has a wide distribution range, covering the coastal regions of South America, from central Peru through Argentina. This species prefers to nest in a variety of habitats, including rocky outcrops, sandy beaches, salt marshes, and even urban areas.


Numerous subspecies of the Brown-Hooded Gull have been identified, based on their geographic location and unique characteristics. Some of the recognized subspecies include the following:

– C.

m. maculipennis: Found in central and southern Chile and western and southern Argentina

– C.

m. brunnicephalus: Found in southern Peru and northern Chile

– C.

m. albiventer: Found in the Falkland Islands

– C.

m. civitatium: Found in northeastern Brazil

Related Species

The Brown-Hooded Gull is closely related to several other gull species, such as the Grey-Hooded Gull (Leucophaeus cirrocephalus), which has a similar brown hood but has yellow legs and beak. The Brown-Headed Gull (Chroicocephalus brunnicephalus) is another closely related species, found in the same geographic range as the Brown-Hooded Gull, but with a slightly larger body and distinct markings.

Historical Changes to Distribution

The distribution of the Brown-Hooded Gull has changed over time, partly due to human activities such as development and hunting. These changes have led to alterations in their breeding and foraging habitats and have affected the population level of the species.

For instance, in the late 1800s, populations of Brown-Hooded Gulls were hunted on the Falkland Islands for their feathers, which were used in the millinery trade. The widespread hunting of this species led to a decline in population levels and the local extinction of the white-bellied subspecies, C.

m. albiventer.

In recent decades, Brown-Hooded Gulls have expanded their distribution range, from northern Peru to the southern coast of Brazil. They have also been seen as far north as the United States, indicating a possible expansion of their range due to climate shifts or changes in migratory patterns.

Conservation Efforts

The Brown-Hooded Gull is a species of least concern, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN); however, it is essential to monitor their population and distribution range to ensure their conservation status remains stable. Conservation efforts for these birds include protecting their nesting habitats, reducing human activities that could damage their ecosystem or food sources, and monitoring their population levels and migration patterns.

It is also crucial to raise awareness of the importance of conserving these birds and their habitats through education and outreach programs. In conclusion, the Brown-Hooded Gull is a fascinating species with a complicated history in terms of its taxonomic classification and distribution range.

With ongoing monitoring and conservation efforts, we can better understand and protect these birds’ habitats and ensure that future generations can enjoy observing these unique creatures in their natural environment.

Call to Action

If you’re interested in supporting the conservation of Brown-Hooded Gulls and other bird species, consider supporting local conservation organizations, getting involved in citizen science projects, and adopting bird-friendly practices in your own life. These actions can help preserve these beautiful and unique creatures for generations to come.

, but will end with a call to action for readers to support conservation efforts for the species.


The Brown-Hooded Gull is a species that prefers a variety of habitats, from rocky outcrops, sandy beaches, and salt marshes to urban areas. They are commonly found along the coasts of Argentina, Chile, and Peru, where they breed in colonies on rocky outcrops or sandy areas close to water.

The rocky habitats offer natural protection against predators, while sandy areas provide suitable breeding sites. During non-breeding seasons, these gulls can be seen in estuaries, lagoons, and other bodies of water, where they feed on different prey.

The Brown-Hooded Gull is becoming increasingly adaptable to urban areas, where they can find abundant food sources such as garbage dumps or fast food outlets, which can lead to human-bird conflicts in certain areas. This species, however, can be used as an indicator of environmental health since they are sensitive to pollution levels, and their presence indicates a healthier coastal environment.

Movements and Migration

The Brown-Hooded Gull is not known to undertake long migrations but does make seasonal movements within its range.

Breeding adults mainly inhabit the southern range during the austral summer, whereas juveniles frequent the northern range during the same period.

During the non-breeding season, they disperse widely along the South American Pacific coast, with birds appearing as far north as the United States. Furthermore, the Brown-Hooded Gull is a vagrant species, occasionally seen thousands of kilometers from their usual range.

Records of sightings have been reported from various countries, including Ecuador, Peru, and the Falkland Islands. These rare sightings typically occur during the non-breeding season, when individuals are more likely to disperse.

Climate change is predicted to have a significant impact on the movements of gulls worldwide, including the Brown-Hooded Gull. Studies suggest that coastal habitat loss due to climate change could lead to a shift in habitat choice, with some populations potentially moving further from the coast to new habitats created due to changing rainfall patterns.

Conservation Efforts

The Brown-Hooded Gull is known for being a relatively resilient species, without any significant conservation concerns. However, human activities such as coastal development, habitat disturbance, pollution, and overfishing are a potential threat to their breeding, foraging, and roosting habitats.

Moreover, urbanization and tourism can have a detrimental impact on their behavior and breeding success. Efforts to conserve the species involve monitoring important nesting sites, identifying and resolving human-nature conflicts, and developing protective measures to conserve their breeding habitat.

More research is also needed to clarify this species’ population size and trends, which will aid in their long-term conservation and management.

Call to Action

If you are interested in supporting the conservation of the Brown-Hooded Gull and other seabirds, you can get involved in citizen science programs such as ebird or iNaturalist to monitor and document sightings. Encourage responsible tourism practices that do not disturb the birds or their habitats, and support local conservation organizations working to protect their breeding and foraging zones.

By working together, we can ensure that future generations can enjoy observing this unique and fascinating species. , but will end with a call to action for readers to support conservation efforts for the species.

Diet and Foraging


The Brown-Hooded Gull is an opportunistic feeder and will consume a wide range of food sources. They commonly feed on small fish such as anchovies, as well as crustaceans, squid, and carrion.

The gulls forage by wading in shallow waters or diving into the water in search of prey.


The diet of Brown-Hooded Gulls can vary depending on their location and time of year. During the breeding season, they mainly rely on small fish and invertebrates, such as crabs and shrimps, which they find close to shore, both in salt and fresh waters.

During non-breeding seasons, they tend to travel further from the shore in search of prey, and hence, their diet varies more, including scavenging, visiting dumpsters, and feeding on waste.

Metabolism and Temperature Regulation

The Brown-Hooded Gull has a unique physiological adaptation to cope with changing environmental conditions. During hot weather, for example, they raise their beaks and pant to regulate their body temperature actively.

Moreover, their metabolism can also adapt to changing food supplies and environmental conditions. Efficient heat dissipation and proper regulating foraging and digestion are key adaptations to cope with different environmental challenges.

Sounds and Vocal Behavior


Brown-Hooded Gulls are vocal birds. They often make various calls and sounds as a means of communication throughout their life cycle.

Their vocalization can express their emotions, warn others off, and signal important information such as the presence of food or danger. These birds have a steady, harsh call car-kloar, and the males engage in courtship where they can produce a “weea” call.

During feeding, they use a “laughing call,” which is a staccato sound that resembles human laughter. These vocalizations act as important communicative signals that allow individuals to acquire information about their environment, assess the safety of a given area, and identify potential sources of food.

Brown-Hooded Gull vocalizations are therefore an essential means of ensuring successful reproduction, feeding, and survival.

Conservation Efforts

Although the Brown-Hooded Gull is not threatened with extinction, conservation efforts should focus on protecting breeding sites, foraging zones, and food sources. It is essential to raise awareness among coastal communities about the impact of waste dumping and plastics pollution on wildlife and encourage better waste management practices.

Moreover, public outreach and education can play an essential role in the conservation of these birds, mainly related to habitat conservation and environmental awareness. Additionally, responsible tourism, development, and coastline management practices can contribute to the long-term conservation of Brown-Hooded Gull.

By working together, we can protect the habitats and resources that these birds rely on to survive and pass this unique species on to future generations.

Call to Action

If you are interested in contributing to the conservation of the Brown-Hooded Gull, you can participate in citizen science programs, support bird conservation organizations, and advocate for environmentally responsible practices. Moreover, you can help clean up beaches and reduce harmful waste, such as plastics, that pose a significant threat to many coastal species.

Together, we can create a sustainable future for the Brown-Hooded Gull and other threatened bird species. , but will end with a call to action for readers to support conservation efforts for the species.



Brown-Hooded Gulls are dynamic birds capable of swift and agile movements both on land and in the water. They have powerful wings that allow them to fly with ease in search of food and nesting habitat.

When foraging along the coast, they can swim, dive, and wade into shallow waters to capture their prey. On land, they walk and hop, and their strong legs can help them climb over rocky terrain in search of breeding sites.

Self Maintenance

Self-maintenance behaviors are an important part of the Brown-Hooded Gull’s behavior. Grooming is essential for the maintenance of their feathers, which protects them from cold temperatures, water, and the sun’s harmful rays.

They preen their feathers, removing any dirt or debris and aligning them for better insulation and streamline while they swim and fly.

Agonistic Behavior

Brown-Hooded Gulls can be territorial and display aggressive behaviors towards intruders. During the breeding season, they often defend their nests from other individuals, or from other bird species like the Kelp Gull.

They use aggressive displays to warn off potential intruders, and if the first warning is not heeded, they will physically attack the intruder.

Sexual Behavior

During the breeding season, Brown-Hooded Gulls engage in courtship rituals involving displays of affection and interest. The males will perform courtship displays, displaying their wings, and leaping into the air with a weea call.

The pairs bond will become more stable, and they rely on each other to share incubation and chick-rearing duties.


Breeding in Brown-Hooded Gulls varies depending on their location. The southernmost populations in Argentina and Chile will begin breeding in September, whereas northern nesting populations may begin as late as November.

Breeding begins with pair formation and guarding of potential nesting sites. Once the pair bond is formed, both partners participate in nest-building, with the male collecting materials and the female placing the nest together.

Once the nest is completed, the female will lay a clutch of between one and three eggs, which both partners will incubate for approximately 25-28 days. Once the chicks are hatched, both parents will feed and protect their offspring, teaching them how to forage and become independent.

Demography and Populations

The Brown-Hooded Gull is considered a species of least concern, but some local populations may experience decline in certain areas due to human encroachment, pollution, and changing habitat conditions. Demographically, this species often establishes colonies of varying density depending on the conditions and the food availability.

Colony size often varies depending on the nesting habitat, from just a few birds to thousands. In order to maintain a healthy and stable population, it is essential to monitor population trends, understand the impact of changing environmental conditions, and protect critical breeding and foraging habitats.

Long-term monitoring and research can help managers determine if the populations are stable and implement necessary conservation strategies if any concerns arise.

Call to Action

If you are interested in supporting the conservation of Brown-Hooded Gulls and other bird species, you can get involved in local conservation organizations, participate in citizen science programs, and reduce your impact on the environment by adopting environmentally friendly practices. Be mindful of breeding sites and nesting territories along the coast when engaging in any coastal activity.

Your actions can contribute to the long-term conservation of these beloved birds and their fragile habitats. In conclusion, the Brown-Hooded Gull is a fascinating species that plays a critical role in the coastal ecosystem of South America.

We have explored its taxonomy, unique behaviors, habitats, and conservation challenges. The gulls’ ability to adapt to different environments and changing climate conditions is a fascinating adaptation that highlights its resilience.

However, there is still work to be done to ensure the long-term survival of this species through habitat conservation, monitoring of populations, and sustainable practices. By working together, we can make a positive difference in protecting these birds and their natural ecosystems, preserving their existence for future

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