U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version

September 1993


J. Field Ornithol., 64(4):557-565. Permission to use.


The 3662 recovery records for Laughing Gulls (Larus atriczlla) banded in North America from 1924 to 1991 were analyzed to determine migration and dispersal patterns for Northeast (Maine to Virginia) and Gulf Coast (west coast of Florida to Texas) populations. Autumn migration for Northeast Laughing Gulls was initiated in October. Northeast Laughing Gulls migrated greater distances and were recovered farther south during winter than Gulf Coast gulls. Significantly more Gulf Coast Laughing Gulls wintered along the Gulf Coast than did Northeast Laughing Gulls. In contrast, significantly more Northeast Laughing Gulls wintered in Central and South America. Adult Laughing Gulls returned to breeding areas between March and May. Sixty-four percent of adult recoveries during subsequent breeding seasons were within 50 km of their natal banding locations. Significantly more Laughing Gulls were recovered north of their natal banding location than south during subsequent breeding seasons. Autumn dispersal of hatching-year Laughing Gulls was characterized by northward movements before migration. There was little interchange between Northeast and Gulf Coast populations.