Gaviota Reidora/Laughing Gull/Leucophaeus atricilla  

Foto: Jorge Chinchilla

Nombre en español: Gaviota Reidora

Nombre en inglés: Laughing Gull

Nombre científico: Leucophaeus atricilla

Familia: Laridae

Canto: Frank Lambert

La gaviota reidora americana (Leucophaeus atricilla, antes Larus atricilla)​ es una especie de ave Charadriiforme de la familia Laridae. Es una gaviota común en las áreas costeras de Norteamérica en verano, extendiéndose sus dominios por el Caribe hasta la parte norte de Sudamérica. Las colonias más norteñas acostumbran migrar hacia el sur en invierno. Se reconoce por su muy oscura «capucha» y sus chillidos de carcajadas de donde viene su nombre. Aprovecha la más mínima oportunidad de alimentarse: sigue al arado para coger gusanos del suelo, rebusca entre los desechos que la mar arroja a la orilla; de los turistas come lo que desechan en la playa de comida chatarra de maíz y trigo, ya que no les tiene miedo, y sigue a los barcos pesqueros. Las colonias de cría se localizan en pantanos, en el litoral y en islas cercanas a tierra firme.

Foto: Mauricio Ossa


Se conocen dos subespecies de Leucophaeus atricilla:​

  • Leucophaeus atricilla atricilla (Linnaeus, 1758
  • Leucophaeus atricilla megalopterus (Bruch, 1855)
Foto: Jorge Chinchilla

Laughing gull

The laughing gull (Leucophaeus atricilla) is a medium-sized gull of North and South America. Named for its laugh-like call, it is an opportunistic omnivore and scavenger. It breeds in large colonies mostly along the Atlantic coast of North America, the Caribbean, and northern South America. The two subspecies are: L. a. megalopterus – which can be seen from southeast Canada down to Central America, and L. a. atricilla which appears from the West Indies to the Venezuelan islands. The laughing gull was long placed in the genus Larus until its present placement in Leucophaeus, which follows the American Ornithologists’ Union.


The genus name Leucophaeus is from Ancient Greek λευκός : leukós, «white», and φαιός : phaios, «dusky». The specific atricilla is from Latin atra, «black», » unlucky» or «malevolent» and cilla, «tail».


It breeds on the Atlantic coast of North America, the Caribbean, and northern South America. Northernmost populations migrate farther south in winter, and this species occurs as a rare vagrant to western Europe. The laughing gull’s English name is derived from its raucous kee-agh call, which sounds like a high-pitched laugh «ha… ha… ha…».

Laughing gulls breed in coastal marshes and ponds in large colonies. The large nest, made largely from grasses, is constructed on the ground. The three or four greenish eggs are incubated for about three weeks.


This species is easy to identify. It is 36–41 cm (14–16 in) long with a 98–110 cm (39–43 in) wingspan and a weight range of 203–371g (7.2-13.1 oz). The summer adult’s body is white apart from the dark grey back and wings and black head. Its wings are much darker grey than all other gulls of similar size except the smaller Franklin’s gull, and they have black tips without the white crescent shown by Franklin’s. The beak is long and red. The black hood is mostly lost in winter.

Laughing gulls take three years to reach adult plumage. Immature birds are always darker than most similar-sized gulls other than Franklin’s. First-year birds are greyer below and have paler heads than first-year Franklin’s, and second-years can be distinguished by the wing pattern and structure.


The two subspecies are:

  • L. a. megalopterus – (Bruch, 1855): coastal southeast Canada, eastern & southern United States, Mexico & Central America
  • L. a. atricilla – (Linnaeus, 1758): West Indies to Venezuelan islands

Like most other members of the genus Leucophaeus, the laughing gull was long placed in the genus Larus. The present placement in Leucophaeus follows the American Ornithologists’ Union.

Fuentes: Wikipedia/eBird/xeno-canto

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