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Bonaparte's Gull

Chroicocephalus philadelphia ORDER: CHARADRIIFORMES FAMILY: LARIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A small, graceful gull with bright white patches in its wings, the Bonaparte's Gull winters near people, but breeds in the isolated taiga and boreal forest.

Birds of North America Online
Yard Map Birds Eye View

At a GlanceHelp

Measurements
Both Sexes
Length
11–15 in
28–38 cm
Wingspan
29.9–31.5 in
76–80 cm
Weight
6.3–7.9 oz
180–225 g
Other Names
  • Mouette de Bonaparte (French)
  • Gaviota de Bonaparte (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • The Bonaparte's Gull is the only gull that regularly nests in trees.
  • The English name of the Bonaparte's Gull honors Charles Lucien Bonaparte, who made important contributions to American ornithology while an active member of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia during the 1820s. The scientific name philadelphia was given in 1815 by the describer of the species, George Ord of Philadelphia, presumably because he collected his specimen there.
  • During the breeding season, the Bonaparte's Gull feeds mainly on insects, often catching them on the wing.

Habitat


Lake/Pond

Breeds around lakes and marshes in boreal forest. Winters along lakes, rivers, marshes, bays, and beaches along coasts.

Food


Insects

Small fish and large invertebrates, including insects. Does not eat garbage or carrion.

Nesting

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
1–4 eggs
Egg Description
Buffy green, with dark spots and blotches.
Condition at Hatching
Semiprecocial with eyes open. Covered in down. Able to stand within a day, but usually remain quiet in nest for a week.
Nest Description

Open cup of twigs, small branches, and bark, lined with mosses and lichens. Placed in tree or bent-over rushes.

Nest Placement

Tree

Behavior


Dabbler

Flies along and plucks food from surface of water, or plunges into water to pick food from water.

Conservation

status via IUCN

Least Concern

Numbers have increased over last 100 years.

Credits

  • Burger, J., and M. Gochfeld. 2002. Bonaparte’s Gull (Larus philadelphia). In The Birds of North America, No. 634 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.

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