NORFOLK, Va. (AP) -- Data from aerial surveys along Virginia's Eastern Shore show the number of breeding pairs of the laughing gull has plummeted over the past decade.
The study of one of the region's most recognizable birds was done by the Center for Conservation Biology, which is a joint research unit of Virginia Commonwealth University and the College of William & Mary.
The Virginia-Pilot (http://bit.ly/1cHaAjO) reports the number of breeding pairs fell to fewer than 4,400 this year from 25,000 a decade ago.
Center director Bryan Watts says rising sea levels have led to periodic flooding that wipes out nests and drowns young birds.
Watts says the species isn't in danger. The loss of historical nesting sites has contributed to the laughing gulls' move to higher ground.
Information from: The Virginian-Pilot, http://pilotonline.com
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