Size: Typically 16 - 17 inches (40.5 - 43 cm).
Range: Breeds from Maine to Texas. Regular visitor to Salton Sea in California in summer and fall. Winters from North Carolina to Brazil and from Mexico to northern Peru.
A common sight along the Delaware coast, this shorebird is named for its distinctive voice, which sounds like it is laughing, "ha-ha-ha-ha-haah."
In the summer, the breeding adult's head is black, and its bill is dark red. In the winter, the adults have a mottled gray head and a black bill and legs. Like all gulls, the laughing gull is a wonderful flier and a good swimmer although it seldom dives underwater. It has webbed feet to help it swim and long, narrow wings that allow it to soar over the beach looking for food. Laughing gulls are notorious for begging around beach picnics and fishermen. They often can be seen hovering over the wakes of trawlers and ferry boats.
- Medium-sized, long-winged gull
- Long bill somewhat droopy toward tip
- Head flat at forehead, giving "mean" look
- Adult plumage reached in third year
- Winters from North Carolina southward, occasionally farther north.
- Habitat is coastal, including salt marshes, bays, and estuaries. Laughing gulls are rarely found inland. They breed along the Atlantic Coast from Maine to Texas. They also are a regular visitor to the Salton Sea in southern California in summer and fall.
- This gull nests in colonies. The nest consists of grasses and sedges placed on the ground.
- The females lay 3 - 4 eggs that are brownish with dark marks. The incubation period is 19 - 22 days. The immatures are feathered upon hatching and can generally feed themselves. They leave the nest in 35 - 40 days. There is one brood per year.
- Mostly: Aquatic Invertebrates (small crabs, shrimp)
- Lesser Quantities of: Carrion and Fish