Laughing Gull

A Laughing Gull
Laughing Gull – breeding
Laughing Gull, Leucophaeus atricilla - non breeding
Laughing Gull – Non-breeding

Laughing Gulls are medium-sized gulls named for their laugh-like call.

Breeding adults have black heads, thin white crescents around their eyes, red bills, white bodies, dark gray backs, gray wings with dark tips, white tails, and black legs and feet. Males and females are similar.

Non-breeding adult Laughing Gulls have no black hoods. Instead, their heads are gray with bits of smudge and their bills are black with red tips. Their primary feathers are black with white spots. Their backs and wings are slightly paler than breeding adults. 

Juveniles have a general brown coloring but paler on their heads, black bills, and white tails with a broad black band at the end. Young Laughing gulls take three years to reach adult coloring.

  • Leucophaeus atricilla
  • Length: 15 – 17 in (38 – 43 cm)
  • Weight: 14.1 oz (400g)
  • Wingspan: 40 – 42 in (102 – 107 cm)


Laughing Gulls are usually year-round coastal residents of eastern North America, Central America, and northern South America.

Habitat And Diet

You can find Laughing Gulls mostly in coastal areas, like sandy beaches, salt marshes, mangroves, and even agricultural fields near coasts. They are mostly found on coasts, bays, estuaries, and lakes during migration. 

Laughing Gulls eat a wide variety of food because they forage on coasts and they go inland when there’s high tide.  They eat mostly earthworms, insects, snails, fish, and crabs. They also eat berries, garbage, and handouts from beachgoers. They have also been spotted eating eggs of other birds.

Laughing Gull Calls:


Nests of Laughing Gulls are built from salt marsh vegetation and located on higher ground to avoid flooding by high tides. The female tries to anchor the nests to prevent them from being swept away if flooding occurs.

The females lay two to four eggs and both parents share the responsibility of incubating the eggs for up to twenty days. 

Fun Fact:

Laughing Gulls are sometimes observed to determine if there’s a storm coming. They will usually roost whenever there is low pressure which usually indicates an oncoming storm.