Adult Laughing Gull in breeding plumageAdult Laughing Gull in breeding plumage – Nikon D200, handheld, f7.1, 1/800, ISO 200, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 400mm, natural light, not baited

Laughing Gulls are commonly seen at Fort De Soto County Park but novices to birding and bird watching might think they are three different kinds of gulls depending on their age and plumage. The Laughing Gull in the image above flying over the Gulf of Mexico is an adult in breeding plumage.

Laughing Gull in nonbreeding plumageLaughing Gull in nonbreeding plumage – Nikon D200, handheld, f7.1, 1/1600, ISO 320, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 220mm, natural light, not baited

The Laughing Gull in this image looks quite different but is also an adult shown in nonbreeding plumage. This bird lacks the dark hood and reddish bill that a Laughing Gull shows in breeding plumage.

Juvenile Laughing GullJuvenile Laughing Gull – Nikon D200, handheld, f7.1, 1/350, ISO 250, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 310mm, natural light, not baited

This last image shows a juvenile Laughing Gull which in size, shape and form looks just like the adult Laughing Gulls but the plumage is quite different in color and pattern. It can be even more confusing because juvenile Laughing Gulls in 1st winter, 1st summer and 2nd winter also exhibit differences in plumage.

Laughing Gulls may have been common for me to see in Florida but here in Utah seeing one would be considered rare.