By Peter Vankevich
The black-hooded Laughing gull, a common sight on Ocracoke from spring into early winter, are pretty much gone for warmer climes by the end of December.
The Christmas Bird Count that takes place around New Year’s Day records only a few of these birds, and just a few stragglers may winter here.
In the fall they molt into a basic plumage and the black hood disappears.
The birds migrate to warmer climes such as the Caribbean and Florida for the cold months.
When they return, as they have in the past week, they are again in their breeding plumage, or transitioning into it, and easily identifiable.