Two gulls on a Florida beach

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Gulls eating Doritos, South Beach Park in Fort Pierce on Hutchinson Island yesterday.

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Sitting in a beach chair on a perfect sunny warm day is a nice way to watch birds. Our New Hampshire snowbird friends were with us.

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These two gulls were together for a while.

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This is a Laughing Gull. They have solid black heads in breeding season so maybe this one is transitioning.

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Swirling over beaches with strident calls and a distinctive, crisp black head, Laughing Gulls provide sights and sounds evocative of summer on the East Coast. You’ll run across this handsome gull in large numbers at beaches, docks, and parking lots, where they wait for handouts or fill the air with their raucous calls. Laughing Gulls are summer visitors to the Northeast and year-round sights on the coasts of the Southeast and the Gulf of Mexico.

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This one is a Ring-billed Gull. I would see them a lot in New Hampshire. This one looks like a “second winter” gull with tan streaking.

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Familiar acrobats of the air, Ring-billed Gulls nimbly pluck tossed tidbits from on high. Comfortable around humans, they frequent parking lots, garbage dumps, beaches, and fields, sometimes by the hundreds. These are the gulls you’re most likely to see far away from coastal areas—in fact, most Ring-billed Gulls nest in the interior of the continent, near freshwater. A black band encircling the yellow bill helps distinguish adults from other gulls—but look closely, as some other species have black or red spots on the bill.

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Laughing Gulls and their distinctive calls remind me of summers at the Jersey Shore when I was growing up.

This is a very vocal species whose common call is a loud, descending series of laughing notes lasting 3 seconds or more.

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Ring-billed Gulls are here only in winter/ non-breeding season, whereas Laughing Gulls are year-round residents. As with humans, it’s a busy season when residents and snowbirds are in Florida at the same time.

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