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Laughing Gull

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Laughing Gulls are beggars, scavengers and thieves. They’ll entice handouts from visitors on the beach or people hanging off the stern a boat. They’ll rummage through a garbage dump or steal food from the bills of pelicans, terns and other shorebirds.

Laughing Gull
• Length: 16.5 inches
• Wingspan: 40 inches
• Season: Year-round
More about Laughing Gulls.
Where they are, and when.

For all their vices, Laughing Gulls are an elegant bird, with long swept wings and grace in flight. In summer, they have a black hood, dark red bill and white crescents above and below their eyes. In winter, they lose the hood and their bill returns to black. It take three years for Laughing Gulls to reach maturity. They start out a dusky brown and transition to a blue-gray plumage with a white head. Their call resembles a high-pitched laugh – “ha, ha, ha, ha”.

Laughing Gulls are not finicky eaters, and their diet ranges from fish, crabs and shrimp to leftovers and garbage. They show up not just on beaches and docks but restaurant parking lots and will follow behind ships hoping for small fish stirred up in their wake.

They nest in salt marshes, on islands and sandy beaches. Their colonies reach into the thousands of pairs and they may intermix with other gulls, terns, Black Skimmers and America Oystercatchers. They build their nests on the ground and fill them with three or four brownish eggs with dark markings.

About Scott Clark

I’m a digital journalist who’s worked as a photographer, reporter, producer and editor. My interest in the natural history of my surroundings reaches back to my early days beachcombing on the Jersey coast, rowing my boat on a quiet lake in Missouri and, more recently, discovering the mountains and backwoods of Montana, where I was born.

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