Laughing Gull

Leucophaeus atricilla




Gulls, Terns, Skimmers (Laridae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

Olive to buff with brown markings.

Number of Eggs:


Incubation Days:


Egg Incubator:

Both sexes

Nest Location:

On ground.

Nest Material:

Lined with grass and weeds.





Laughing Gull: Medium-sized gull with gray back and white underparts. Head has black hood, white neck; bill is red. Wings are gray and white-edged except at tips; tail is white. Legs and feet are black. Sexes are similar. Winter adult has a gray-streaked cap; dark bill with red tip. Juvenile has brown upperparts and head, dark bill and legs and thick black tail band. Juvenile has brown upperparts and head, black bill and white tail with broad black terminal band. First winter resembles juvenile but begins to show gray on back and white on face.

Range and Habitat

Laughing Gull: Lives mainly on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the U.S., ranging from Maine down through Florida and Texas. Also occurs along the Gulf coast of Mexico, inland southern Mexico, the West Indies, and along the Baja Peninsula. Spends winters regularly north to Virginia, in smaller numbers farther north. Found in salt marshes, lagoons, and coastal beaches.

Breeding and Nesting

Laughing Gull: These gulls are monogamous, and pairs often stay together for several breeding seasons. Both sexes help build the nest. Three olive to buff eggs marked with brown are laid in a ground nest lined with grass and weed stems, built on sand or in a salt marsh. The eggs are incubated for 20 days by both parents.

Foraging and Feeding

Laughing Gull: They are opportunistic. Their diet includes aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates, including earthworms, flying insects, beetles and other insects, snails, crabs, fish, squid, garbage, offal and berries. They normally feed on the coast at the edge of water; they go inland during high winds and high tides. They forage while walking, picking up food from the surface of land or water.


Laughing Gull: Call is loud, high-pitched "ha, ha, ha, ha."

Similar Species

Laughing Gull: Similar gulls are smaller and daintier, and are common inland.


Belly, undertail coverts, chest, flanks, and foreneck.

Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
The front part of the head consisting of the bill, eyes, cheeks and chin.
Terminal bandX
Refers to the contrasting stripe at the tip of the tail.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X