Living Bird Magazine
Laughing GullLeucophaeus atricilla
- ORDER: Charadriiformes
- FAMILY: Laridae
Swirling over beaches with strident calls and a distinctive, crisp black head, Laughing Gulls provide sights and sounds evocative of summer on the East Coast. You’ll run across this handsome gull in large numbers at beaches, docks, and parking lots, where they wait for handouts or fill the air with their raucous calls. Laughing Gulls are summer visitors to the Northeast and year-round sights on the coasts of the Southeast and the Gulf of Mexico.More ID Info
Find This Bird
Look for Laughing Gulls at the beach, especially during summer when their crisp black hoods and red bills make them easy to pick out from other gull species. You may also notice that their back and wings (the mantle) are considerably darker than common medium-sized gulls such as Ring-billed Gulls; this can also help you to pick them out from a crowd.
- Gaviota Reidora (Spanish)
- Mouette atricille (French)
- Cool Facts
- The male and female Laughing Gull usually build their nest together. If a male cannot find a mate, he may start building a nest platform and then use it to attract a female.
- The Laughing Gull is normally diurnal, or active during the day. During the breeding season it forages at night as well. It usually looks for food along the beach at night, but will also hover to catch insects around lights.
- The adult Laughing Gull removes the eggshells from the nest after the eggs hatch. If the shells are not removed, a piece can become lodged on top of the slightly smaller unhatched third egg and prevent it from hatching.
- Nest colonies in the northeastern United States were nearly eliminated by egg and plume hunters in the late 19th century. Populations have increased over the last century, following protection.
- The oldest known Laughing Gull was at least 22 years old when it was killed in Maine in 2009, the same state where it had been banded in 1987.