Tag Archives: Leucophaeus atricilla

WHAT’S SO FUNNY ABOUT LAUGHING GULLS?

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.

GOOD MORNING FROM GOOD HARBOR!

Despite the pandemic heartbreak, along with the social and economic hardships so many are experiencing, the summer of 2020 been a beautiful season of sunrises and sunsets. This one is from several days ago.I’m so behind in posting local wildlife stories while trying to prepare all the ancillary materials needed to send my film to APTWW, a huge back log of stories really. But I did want everyone to be aware that there is a a great flock of juvenile Laughing Gulls on our shores right now. They are fishing feeding with juvenile Herring Gulls as well as with adult Laughing Gulls. The Laughing Gull juveniles are smaller than the Herring Gulls and have a very distant scallop pattern on their flight wings. Will try to post some more photos later today 🙂Laughing Gull juvenile

MAY IS THE MAGICAL MONTH FOR MIGRATION THROUGH MASSACHUSETTS – Featuring Laughing Gulls at Good Harbor Beach

Over the past several weeks we have been graced with a bevy of beauties arriving on our shores, some here to stay to nest for the summer, and for some, we are a stopover to their breeding grounds further north, a place to rest and refuel.

Last night a pair of Laughing Gulls was spotted foraging at the shoreline at Good Harbor Beach, earlier in the week a pair of Yellow Legs was at GHB in the early morning, and last week, a flock of Brant Geese, a trio of Black-bellied Plovers, and a Willet were observed. Our gardens, woodlands, meadows, and dunes have come alive with Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, Yellow Warblers, Eastern Phoebes, American Robins, Baltimore Orioles, Eastern Towhees, Bobolinks, Carolina Wrens, Brown Thrashers, Eastern Bluebirds, and dozens more species of songbirds.

The striking black-hooded Laughing Gull breeds in Massachusetts, but was nearly extirpated because of the plume and egg hunters of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They began to make a comeback, only to be devastated again by larger gulls expanding their southward range. Laughing Gulls are adaptable and today their numbers are increasing.

I’ve seen single Laughing Gulls at Good Harbor, but this is the first pair. Perhaps they are breeding at Salt Island or Thacher Island. Wouldn’t that be wonderful 🙂

Laughing Gull breeding and wintering range

Beautiful few moments when the sun was trying to break through the bank of clouds.

Super high tides at Good Harbor Beach this week; notice how close to the dune’s edge is the line of seaweed left by the last tide.

Mama on the nest

Tee-hee Tee-Hee – Laughing Gull at Good Harbor Beach!

Laughing Gull Good Harbor Beach Gloucester Massachusetts copyright Kim SmithLook for this unmistakeable gull at Good Harbor Beach. It has been here for several days. You can’t miss his distinguished black head and deepest slate gray wings. If lucky, he may even laugh his funny laugh for you. This is a first for me, seeing a Laughing Gull at Good Harbor Beach. When I was a child we would see them often at my Grandparent’s beach on Cape Cod. If you have seen Laughing Gulls on Cape Ann please write and let us know.

Mass Audubon’s historic status on the Laughing Gull reports that this smallest of our breeding gulls has had a difficult time reproducing in Massachusetts. In the mid 1800s, Laughing Gulls reigned over Muskeget Island, off the Nantucket coast, but within a 25-year period, commercial eggers reduced their population to but only a few nesting pairs. “By 1923, however, protective actions taken by the keeper of the island’s lifesaving station helped the Laughing Gull population rebound to the thousands. Further bolstered by the protection afforded by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, Laughing Gulls expanded their colony at Muskeget Island to 20,000 pairs by the 1940s. Unfortunately, a preponderance of Herring Gulls also benefited from the protection of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, as well as from the increase in food available to them at open landfills at that time.” The rise of the Herring Gull has ultimately led to the severe decline of breeding Laughing Gulls in Massachusetts and today there are thought to be only about 500 pairs. Imagine, from 20,000 pairs to only 500!

One interesting fact is that not only do they nest in Dune Grass, but also have a penchant for dense patches of Poison Ivy. The Good Harbor Beach Laughing Gull has been foraging on crustaceans and invertebrates at the tide pools.