Laughing Gull
(Leucophaeus atricilla)


Picture of bird
© John Reaume
For additional photos and vocalizations, visit Dendroica. (Link opens in a new window.)

The Laughing Gull breeds primarily along the Atlantic coast from Maine to the Caribbean. It may have bred regularly in Atlantic Canada in the first half of the 20th century, but breeding records since then have been uncommon. The abundance of Laughing Gulls in the United States has increased significantly since about 1970, but the Canadian population has likely changed little over this period. The species remains an irregular breeder in Canada.


Main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
IUCN (Global)Least concern2018 
Wild Species (Canada)Critically imperiled2015 

Population status

Geographic area or populationPopulation change relative to ~1970ReliabilityStatus in relation to goal
CanadaLittle ChangeMediumAt an Acceptable Level

Population estimate

Geographic area or populationPopulation estimate
Canada< 100 breeding birds

Distribution maps


Migration strategy, occurrence

Long-distance migrant

Responsibility for conservation

Geographic areaResponsibility based on % of global population
CanadaVery Low

Conservation and management

In the United States, Laughing Gulls must compete with increasing populations of other gulls for food and nesting sites (Burger 2015). The flip side is that Laughing Gulls in the Maritimes may increase as a result of population declines in large gulls like Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls, as well as a warming climate (Chardine 2015). In some areas, the Laughing Gull has been viewed as a nuisance, as it feeds in landfills and airport fields, potentially causing a hazard to aircraft. Due to their disruption, certain populations have been managed in some areas around airports and near colonies of endangered terns (Burger 2015). The species has suffered from exposure to organochlorines and other contaminants (Burger 2015).


Bird conservation region strategies

Environment and Climate Change Canada and partners have developed Bird Conservation Region Strategies in each of Canada’s Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs). In these strategies, selected species are identified as priorities for one or more of the following reasons:

  • conservation concerns (i.e., species vulnerable due to population size, distribution, population trend, abundance, or threats)
  • stewardship responsibilities (i.e., species that typify the regional avifauna or have a large proportion of their range or population in the sub-region)
  • management concerns (i.e., species that require ongoing management because of their socio-economic importance as game species, or because of their impacts on other species or habitats)
  • other concerns (i.e., species deemed a priority by regional experts for other reasons than those listed above or because they are listed as species at risk or concern at the provincial level)

Select any of the sub-regions below to view the BCR strategy for additional details.

BCRs, marine biogeographic units, and sub-regions in which the species is listed as a priority
RegionSub-region and priority type