Laughing Gull in nonbreeding plumageLaughing Gull in nonbreeding plumage – Nikon D200, handheld, f6.3, 1/1250, ISO 320, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 230mm, natural light, not baited

Both of these Laughing Gulls in breeding and nonbreeding plumage images were taken at Fort De Soto County Park’s north beach in Florida, the image above shows a Laughing gull in nonbreeding plumage that was taken in September of 2008. It was a crazy day, there was a hurricane way out in the Gulf of Mexico, the wind was blowing hard and pushing baitfish close to shore and the bird activity was great.

Note the nearly white head, the black bill and how the white eye arcs don’t stand out all that well from the surrounding white of the head.

Bathing Laughing Gull in breeding plumageBathing Laughing Gull in breeding plumage – Nikon D200, handheld, f6.3, 1/640, ISO 250, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 330mm, natural light, not baited

This Laughing Gull was bathing in a tidal lagoon when I photographed it in May of 2009 and it is in breeding plumage, note the dark head, how the bill has changed to a dark red and how well the white eye arcs stand out from the dark head. Also this Laughing Gull shows a red orbital ring around the eye that the gull in nonbreeding plumage does not have. This image does not show the legs of the gull but they are a mahogany red color instead of the dark gray legs of a nonbreeding bird.

To the untrained eye these two Laughing Gulls might look like two different gull species because of the differences in appearance.