I really like Sea Gulls; They are raucous, clever, beautiful and so varied. I used to think the only kind of Sea Gull was the one that looked like Jonathan Livingston Sea Gull. But now, I spend time at the Jersey Shore I’ve come to know several varieties. My favorite is the Laughing Gull.
These sleek black-headed birds are seen in great numbers during the summer along the beaches and coasts of the Northeast. Year-round they can be found around the Gulf of Mexico and the coasts of the Southeast. They have long legs and fairly long wings. Laughing Gulls eat almost anything, including food they catch or steal, handouts, garbage, and discards from fishing boats. They often congregate in parking lots, sandy beaches, and mud bars. Listen for their nasal, strident calls in flight, while feeding, and at rest.
Look for Laughing Gulls at the beach, especially during summer when their crisp black hoods and red bills make them easy to pick out from other gull species. You may also notice that their back and wings (the mantle) are considerably darker than common medium-sized gulls such as Ring-billed Gulls; this can also help you to pick them out from a crowd.
I like to feed the gulls any leftover stale bread I may have or those fried greasy crinkly things you get from the Chinese restaurant, they love them. Anyway, my favorite gull to feed is the Laughing Gull. They seem smarter than the others and they know it. While hoards of gulls will gather on the sand below the dock where I am tossing the bread, each one trying to steal the piece that their neighbor has instead of going after a fresh one, the Laughing Gull disdains to join the crowd on the sand and circles me coming closer and closer. He is quite happy to receive his bread in the air, swooping under it to catch it in his mouth or darting sideways to snatch it mid-air. They will hover over my head like a helicopter waiting for me to toss a piece up in the air.
Murray Head has captured fabulous photos of these delightful creatures and I’m happy to share them with you.