Laughing Gull - Oceana


Laughing Gull

Larus Atricilla


Tropical to temperate latitudes of North and South America


Nest on rocky shores and beaches; feed in coastal waters

Feeding Habits

Foraging predator/scavenger


Order Charadriiformes (gulls, auks, and relatives), Family Laridae (gulls)


Like many seagulls, the laughing gull eats a variety of prey and will both hunt and scavenge for suitable food. They forage for a variety of living, coastal invertebrates and for human garbage. They also often steal food from other predators, especially the brown pelican. Adult laughing gulls have few predators, but they are likely taken by tiger sharks and other large, coastal sharks when they float on the sea surface.

Like all seabirds, laughing gulls nest on land. They reproduce via internal fertilization, and the females lay fertilized eggs in nests made of coastal grasses, directly on the ground. Both males and females incubate the eggs and care for the chicks. Laughing gulls reach sexual maturity at approximately age three.

The laughing gull is a common species throughout its range and is a species of least conservation concern. In fact, its populations are increasing in size, a likely result of its ability to thrive in the human environment. The laughing gull is successful in degraded systems and is particularly adept at scavenging in construction sites and landfill operations, common human systems in the coastal environment. Though this species is generally limited to the Americas, some vagrant individuals are now observed in Western Europe each year. To date, these observations do not represent a true range expansion.

Engage Youth with Sailors for the Sea

Oceana joined forces with Sailors for the Sea, an ocean conservation organization dedicated to educating and engaging the world’s boating community. Sailors for the Sea developed the KELP (Kids Environmental Lesson Plans) program to create the next generation of ocean stewards. Click here or below to download hands-on marine science activities for kids.

Kids Environmental Lesson Plans

Additional Resources:

IUCN Red List