Laughing Gull, upper Niagara R.

D Suggs dfsuggs at
Sat Nov 30 20:48:38 EST 2002

Laughing Gull, first or second winter
East branch of upper Niagara River, between southern tip of Grand
Island & Tonawanda, NY.
Saturday, Nov 30, 3:30-4:10P
David and Debbie Suggs
Eggertsville, NY, USA

Details of post to Geneseebirds-l after directions. Followup from
Willie D'Anna agreed with ID.

Directions : Niagara River Parkway, south of Niagara Falls and
Chippawa, and north of Fort Erie, Ont. View toward southern tip
of Grand Island and Strawberry Island may find this gull that was
near the NYS shore.

> Probable Laughing Gull, sub-adult
> Saturday, Nov 30, 3:30-4:10P
> David and Debbie Suggs
> Seen on Niagara River from loop drive at south end of Beaver Is.
> SP. Looking east across river toward Aqua Lane boat launch at
> foot of Sheridan Dr. in Tonawanda.
> Spotted in flight for a few seconds, moving from Strawberry Is
> toward Tonawanda side of river. Tipped from side to side in
> flight, nice view of topside - long wings, wings all dark from
> tip to tip, with various shades of black and dark gray. Tips
> blackest. White tail with solid black terminal band. First
> impression was Laughing Gull, but also considered Lesser
> Black-back and Franklin's.
> Landed on water - Studied with scope at great distance. Seen on
> water with Ring-bills and Great Black-backs. About equal to, but
> not larger, than Ring-billed Gull. Much smaller than Great
> Black-back. White head with dark shading around eye, spreading
> into crown and hindneck. White forehead. Thick, all dark bill; by
> comparison, could just see rings on Ring-bill and lighter colors
> on Great Black-backs. Long wings, tips crossed behind tail.
> Gull was much closer to boat launch on opposite shore, so we
> gambled and left Beaver Is. for chance at closer view. Arrived at
> Aqua Lane boat launch about 10 minutes later - could not find
> gull or the two Great black-backs it was with when we left Beaver
> Is. Searched from boat launch and park area to the south until
> dark. Park is elevated and provided better view of gulls bouncing
> on rough water.
> I would appreciate any thoughts on this ID. If a Lesser
> Black-back adult, the long dark wings would fit, but I do not
> think it would have such a dark bill. Also, what about the white
> tail with black band? Considered Franklin's Gull, but mantle
> seemed way too dark.  From study of Grant's Gulls and National
> Geographic, Laughing Gull is best fit, but this gull seemed a mix
> of Laughing ages - tail band of first winter, dark mantle of
> second winter or near adult. I have seen Laughing Gulls in
> Florida for most of my life, but I do not know details of
> sub-adults.
> David
D Suggs <dfsuggs at>

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