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Bird Spotlight: Laughing Gull

The Laughing Gull is a small gull that is found along the southern Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Its scientific name is Leucophaeus atricilla. It takes these birds three years to reach adult plumage and immature birds are always darker than their older counterparts.

With the warm weather and abundance of water, the Laughing Gull can be found in Louisiana year-round. They are generally never found very far from the ocean and thrive off areas that have been made by the public such as parking lots and garbage dumps.

The Laughing Gull features a gray back and white underparts, as well as a red bill. The head has a black hood and the wings are gray with white and black tips. Most people agree that this bird is easy to identify, especially with their long, red beaks. Interestingly, the black hoods that birds possess in the spring and summer are lost during the winter months.

The bird got its name from the way it sounds when it calls out, as it makes a “ha, ha, ha” sound. When not hanging around garbage and soil spots looking for food, these birds are found in lagoons, salt marshes and coastal beaches. When the gulls build their nests, they are made mostly from grasses and are constructed on the ground. About 3 or 4 eggs are produced, which are greenish in color. The eggs are incubated for 3 weeks until they hatch.

A Laughing Gull may enjoy eating garbage, but there are other things this breed eats as well. Aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates, fish, squid and berries are among them. These hungry birds will even steal food from the mouths of pelicans.

Interesting Facts:

  • The Laughing Gull is the largest of the black-hooded gulls
  • The call of the Laughing Gull sounds like laughter
  • The Laughing Gull will roost when there’s low pressure, which generally indicates a storm
  • This species is a non-threatened species, of the least concern
  • The Laughing Gull breeds in large colonies in coastal marshes and ponds
  • Gulls that live in the Northeast migrate further south in the winter, while those that live in the warm, coastal regions are able to stay throughout the winter

Source: Whatbird.com AllAboutBirds.com

Image: realbirder.com

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