Birds

Signs of Spring: Laughing gulls return

Laughing Gulls resting on the docks of Silver Harbor after their migration from the South.  Photo by P. Vankevich

Laughing Gulls resting on the docks of Silver Lake Harbor after their migration from the South. Photo by P. Vankevich

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.

Laughing gull. a common sight when taking the Hatteras ferry from spring to early  fall. Photo by P. Vankevich

Laughing gull. a common sight when taking the Hatteras ferry from spring to early fall. Photo by P. Vankevich

In the fall they molt into a basic plumage and the black hood disappears.

Laughing gull in its winter plumage. Photo by P. Vankevich

Laughing gull in its winter plumage. Photo by P. Vankevich

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.