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Laughing Gull
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Published: November 19, 2018
© 2018 - 2019 seagaull
The laughing gull (Leucophaeus atricilla) is a medium-sized gull of North and South America. Named for its laugh-like call, it is an opportunistic omnivore and scavenger. It breeds in large colonies mostly along the Atlantic coast of North America, the Caribbean, and northern South America. The two subspecies are: L. a. megalopterus – which can be seen from southeast Canada down to Central America, and L. a. atricilla which appears from the West Indiesto the Venezuelan islands. The laughing gull was long placed in the genus Larus until its present placement in Leucophaeus, which follows the American Ornithologists' Union.


The genus name Leucophaeus is from Ancient Greek leukos, "white", and phaios, "dusky". The specific atricilla is from Latin ater, "black", and cilla, "tail". Linnaeus appears to have misread his note atricapilla (black-haired), which would have been much more appropriate for this black-headed, but white-tailed, bird.

It breeds on the Atlantic coast of North America, the Caribbean, and northern South America. Northernmost populations migrate farther south in winter, and this species occurs as a rare vagrant to western Europe. The laughing gull's English name is derived from its raucous kee-agh call, which sounds like a high-pitched laugh "ha... ha... ha...".

Laughing gulls breed in coastal marshes and ponds in large colonies. The large nest, made largely from grasses, is constructed on the ground. The three or four greenish eggs are incubated for about three weeks

This species is easy to identify. It is 36–41 cm (14–16 in) long with a 98–110 cm (39–43 in) wingspan. The summer adult's body is white apart from the dark grey back and wings and black head. Its wings are much darker grey than all other gulls of similar size except the smaller Franklin's gull, and they have black tips without the white crescent shown by Franklin's. The beak is long and red. The black hood is mostly lost in winter.

Laughing gulls take three years to reach adult plumage. Immature birds are always darker than most similar-sized gulls other than Franklin's. First-year birds are grayer below and have paler heads than first-year Franklin's, and second-years can be distinguished by the wing pattern and structure.

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Comments (3)
GreenWingSpino32's avatar
GreenWingSpino32|Hobbyist General Artist
They're the most common gull I see in my area and I love if you see them in the sky on a really windy day they'll ride it and relax.
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seagaull's avatar
seagaull|Student Digital Artist
I love seeing laughing gulls they give me life 
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GreenWingSpino32's avatar
GreenWingSpino32|Hobbyist General Artist
Same 😊
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