Laughing Gull

Hey guys welcome back! What’s so funny? I hear laughing! Oh, that’s just today’s bird, the laughing gull. They get their name because their call does, in fact, sound a bit like laughter. If you guys remember way back when we did our other gulls, I mentioned that gulls can loosely be divided into two groups, white and black-headed. Clearly, the laughing gull falls into the latter of those groupings. Laughing gulls look very similar to other gulls like the Bonaparte’s and Franklin’s gulls. They can usually be picked out from their lookalike cousins primarily by geography and color of their legs. Laughing gulls are found along the east coast, and rarely stray far inland. Of all my years working and birding in Central Park, I only ever saw one laughing gull in the park, but if I would head a couple miles away, along the Atlantic coast or even just New York Harbor, I’d see dozens (or more!) The Franklin’s and Bonaparte’s gulls, conversely, are found across the interior of the continent.

Laughing Gull1
Laughing gull in flight, Liberty State Park, Jersey City, NJ

In summer, the laughing gull has a black head, black wing tips, and dark red bill and legs. They’re small gulls, just a tad smaller than the ring-billed gull. Like most gulls, laughing gulls love to hang out near the beach and eat all sorts of people food. Go on down to Coney Island in summer and you can not only take in the salty air, a walk on the boardwalk, a ride on the Cyclone, but a laughing gull feeding frenzy!

Laughing gulls are one of the species nearly hunted to extinction during the plume trade in the late 19th century. Fortunately, thanks to the creation of organizations like the Audubon Society, and protective legislation, the laughing gulls numbers are back up, and they’re doing quite well. Join me next time for a cinnamon-colored thrush; the veery! See you then!

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