The Laughing gull is a medium-sized bird of North and South America named for its laugh-like call. The summer adult's body is white apart from the dark grey back and wings and black head. The beak is long and red. The black hood is mostly lost in winter. Immature birds are generally mottled brown and tan in color and it takes them three years to reach adult plumage.
Laughing gulls breed on the Atlantic coast of North America, the Caribbean, and northern South America. Northernmost populations migrate farther south in winter, and these birds occur as a rare vagrant to western Europe. Laughing gulls are coastal birds; they can be found in salt marshes, estuaries, coastal bays, along beaches, or on agricultural fields near the coast.
Laughing gulls are gregarious birds that forage, rest, nest, and migrate in flocks. They are noisy and aggressive in nature and never hesitate to steal the prey of other birds. They feed by walking along the beach, by dabbling into the mud, by swimming, or by pecking their prey at the surface during the flight. Laughing gulls are active during the day, however, when the breeding season comes they may switch to nocturnal activity and forage at night as well. These birds communicate vocally and their call is loud, high-pitched "ha-ha-ha-ha-haah-haah-haah-haah-haa".
Laughing gulls are monogamous and form long-term pair bonds. They breed from early April and until July. Pairs nest in large colonies. They construct large nests on the ground, made from grasses and plant matter. Females lay 3-4 greenish eggs and incubate them for about three weeks. Chicks are precocial (fully-developed) and are able to leave the nest a few days after hatching. Both parents care for their young until they fledge which happens at around 35 days old. Laughing gulls usually become reproductively mature when they are two years old.
There are no major threats to Laughing gulls at present. However, these birds suffer from destruction of the coastal habitat that they are so dependant on, and from predation by Herring gulls which steal the eggs and nestlings.
According to the All About Birds resource, the total population size of the Laughing gull in North America is around 528,000-538,000 breeding birds. According to the What Bird resource, the total population size of the species is almost 1 million individuals. Overall, currently Laughing gulls are classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and their numbers today are increasing.