The foraging behavior of birds is often influenced by the development and dietary needs of their young. Laughing Gulls in New Jersey, USA, nest in highly productive salt marshes but adults commonly forage at inland sites when they have young in the nest. I monitored movements of individual Laughing Gulls using color-marking, banding and radio-telemetry combined with land-based and aerial surveys. I found that breeding adults were highly mobile and commonly flew inland to forage. Color-marked individuals were observed a mean of 16.6 km and a median of 11.0 km from the colony. Radio-tagged birds were located as far as 40 km inland. Laughing Gulls showed foraging site tenacity both within a given year and from year to year. Radio-tagged adults made as many as 11 foraging trips from the colony per day during both diurnal and nocturnal periods. Activity at the colony peaked during late evening and morning hours. Furthermore, Laughing Gull movement patterns changed with progression of the nesting season. Gulls spent more time at the colony while incubating than during either the chick rearing or fledging periods.
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Vol. 38 • No. 1