Laughing Gull

The Laughing Gull (Leucophaeus atricilla) is a species of bird found in North and South America. It breeds on the Atlantic coast of North America, the Caribbean, and northern South America. The northernmost populations migrate further south in the winter. This species is a rare visitor to western Europe. Its English name is derived from its raucous call that sounds like a high pitched laugh.

This bird is easy to identify. It is 14.2 to 16.2 inches long with a 38.5 to 43.3 inch wingspan. The summer adult has a white body apart from the dark gray back and wings and black head. The wingtips are black. The bill is long and red. The black hood is duller and sometimes lost in the winter. The young are grayer below and have paler heads than the adult.

The breeding habitat is coastal marshes and ponds. Adults gather in large colonies. The nest is made mostly from grasses and is located on the ground. The female lays 3 to 4 greenish eggs that are incubated for about three weeks. The young take three years to reach adult plumage. The diet of this species consists of small prey which it either hunts for or scavenges.

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