Bird’s ID -Laughing Gull

Laughing Gull


The Laughing Gull (Leucophaeus atricilla) is a medium-sized gull of North and South America. Named for its laugh-like call, it is an opportunistic omnivore and scavenger. It breeds in large colonies mostly along the Atlantic coast of North America, the Caribbean, and northern South America. 

This species is easy to identify. It is 36–41 cm (14–16 in) long with a 98–110 cm (39–43 in) wingspan. The summer adult’s body is white apart from the dark grey back and wings and black head. Its wings are a much darker gray than all other gulls of similar size except the smaller Franklin’s gull, and they have black tips without the white crescent shown by Franklin’s. The beak is long and red. The black hood is mostly lost in winter.

Laughing gulls take three years to reach adult plumage. Immature birds are always darker than most similar-sized gulls other than Franklin’s. First-year birds are greyer below and have paler heads than first-year Franklin’s, and second-years can be distinguished by the wing pattern and structure.

It breeds on the Atlantic coast of North America, the Caribbean, and northern South America. Northernmost populations migrate farther south in winter, and this species occurs as a rare vagrant to western Europe. The laughing gull’s English name is derived from its raucous kee-agh call, which sounds like a high-pitched laugh “ha… ha… ha…”.

Laughing gulls breed in coastal marshes and ponds in large colonies. The large nest, made largely from grasses, is constructed on the ground. The three or four greenish eggs are incubated for about three weeks.


Photo Gallery



© HJ Ruiz – Avian101

11 thoughts on “Bird’s ID -Laughing Gull

    • These guys are everywhere, they are part of the beach already! May as well like them too! Thanks! 🙂

  1. These are common in my area. Great groups gather on marina docks near my home, and have laughing competitions. They’re also quite willing to breed on the occasional dock, and that’s something to see. Not everyone has such entertainment at work!

    • If I were a standing comedian at the Comic Improv, I’d love to have these guys among the audience!
      They are vocal yes, just don’t feed them or you’ll have a riot! Thank you, Linda, for sharing. 🙂

    • They are fun to watch and listen to…but do not feed them on the beach! They’ll follow you forever!! 🙂

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