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Marine Animal Encyclopedia

Laughing Gull Larus atricilla

A widespread summer visitor to North American coasts, the laughing gull rarely wanders far inland. It feeds mainly by scavenging and often follows ferries and fishing boats. Bold and self-confident, it is a familiar sight to picnickers on beaches, where it pushes larger gulls aside in the competition to get at food. It nests in large colonies on coasts. Like many dark-headed gulls, it loses its black cap during the non-breeding season, when its head turns a dull white.

Laughing Gullzoom image
  • Order Charadriiformes
  • Length 15–17 in (38–43 cm)
  • Weight 11–18 oz (300–500 g)
  • Habitat Coasts, inshore waters
  • Distribution North America, Caribbean, Central America (breeding); N. South America (non-breeding)
Laughing Gull habitat mapzoom image