Range/Geographical Distribution: Nova Scotia to the Caribbean.
Habitat: Coastal or inland species, rarely venturing far out to sea or into surrounding deciduous forests.
Similar Species: Laughing gull, herring gull, royal tern, and Forester’s tern.
Description: A medium gull with grey back and wings, black legs, and a white belly. Breeding plumage includes a black hood and red bill. In winter the head is white. Immature birds are a mottled brown.
Size: Length: 15-18” Wingspan: 36-47” Weight: 203-271g
Food: A carnivore and scavenger; eats insects, berries, fish, crabs, garbage, and shellfish. Often steals food from other birds.
Breeding: Lays three olive-browns eggs in a nest located on the ground either in the salt marsh or on the sand. Lines the nest with grasses and nests in large colonies.
Predators: Sharks and large birds of prey.
Conservation Status: Laughing gulls are listed as least concern by IUCN. Depleted fish stocks, litter, and loss of habitat are threats to these birds.
Interesting Facts: During the late nineteenth century, laughing gulls were nearly eliminated in the northeast United States from plume and egg hunters. Males and females usually build their nest together but if a male doesn’t have a mate, he will start building a nest alone to attract a mate.
On the Coast: The laughing gull is the most common gull found along the coast of Georgia during the summer months.