Laughing Gulls are so named for their wonderfully noisy laugh-like call and a large flock, such as the one seen on our shores lately, is even more fun to listen to.
Laughing Gull in breeding plumage
Strikingly handsome birds in their breeding feathers, with a sharply defined black head contrasting against their crisp white breast and slate gray feathers, the flock that is currently on Cape Ann looks entirely different because they are a varied mixture of mostly juvenile first hatch year, along with adults that are losing their breeding plumage.The younger members wear a contrasting scalloped brown and white pattern on their flight feathers while the adults have smudgey gray heads. All have stout, slightly curved bills; at this time of year the adult’s bills are black although you may see some red remaining in its bill.
Whether adult or juvenile, an easy way to id is that both have a pair of white crescent spots above and below the eye.
All three above are Laughing Gulls
If spotted beside a juvenile Herring Gull, the Laughing Gull is smaller, with more sharply defined plumage.
The Laughing Gulls diet is varied; they eat many invertebrates including snails, crabs, insects, and earthworms. Laughing Gulls also eat berries, fish, squid, and garbage.
Coming in for a landing
Tossed off by a rock by an incoming wave
Laughing Gulls breed in the Northeast and typically depart to winter in Central America and northern South America. They can be found year round along both the Gulf and Southeast coastlines.