|Related Bird Info
Types of Birds
The ubiquitous human beach companions known as seagulls, or just plain gulls, fill a large space within the larger family, Laridae.
Twenty eight different Laridae species having a common name "gull" make the American Birding Association's North America list. Seventeen of those species belong to a single genus, Larus, and they are presented on a separate page.
The second largest gull genera, Chroicocephalus, records only three North American species, with the Bonaparte's Gull (Chroicocephalus philadelphia) being the most widespread of the three.
The solid colored, dark head feathers of the Laughing Gull (Leucophaeus atricilla) in summer plumage, often described as a hood, makes is difficult to mistake for any of the North American Larus species.
The top picture shows the Laughing Gull in winter plumage, with a prominent white eye ring and dark legs and a minimal dark patch of feathers on an otherwise white head.
Laughing Gulls inhabit coastal areas along new world neotropical coastlines in both North and South America. The North American population spreads its feathers along southern coastal areas.
Like other gull species, they are colony nesters that extend their range along the Northeast Atlantic Coast during summer breeding season.
Because of the close association between gulls and humans, most humans experience the fact of gulls as opportunistic feeders. Day old human snacks as well as local fish and mollusks provide a good portion of the average gull's diet on an average day. When traditional food sources become scarce, gulls are also known to attack the young of other local bird species.
When young, gulls go through a few years of molting during which their feather patterns change. Gull identification typically follows the pattern of identifying the species along with differentiating between the juvenile and adult versions of the species.
© 2009-2011 Patricia A. Michaels