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Bonaparte's Gull


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.

Drink Birds & Beans coffee. Save our birds.
Drink Birds & Beans coffee. Save our birds.


Typical Voice

Adult Description

  • Small gull.
  • White triangle in outer part of wing.
  • Back pale gray.
  • Underparts white.
  • Head black during breeding.
  • Dark spot behind eyes in winter.

Immature Description

Juvenile with much brown on head, neck, and back, a dark bar across the wing, and a black tail tip. Immature similar to nonbreeding adult, but with brownish black bar across the base of the wing, much black in the outer wing, and a black band across the tip of the tail. In first breeding plumage the black head is partly mottled with white.

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Similar Species

  • Terns have even longer, thinner wings, and have forked tails.
  • Black-headed Gull has a longer and heavier, red bill, and blackish under the outer wing feathers. In breeding plumage the Black-headed Gull actually has a brownish hood that does not reach the back of the nape.
  • Little Gull is smaller, with short, round wings, an all whitish back and wings, and blackish on the underside of the wings. Immature has dark cap and bold blackish "M" on wings, not the more narrow and broken "M" shown by Bonaparte's.
  • Immature Black-legged Kittiwake shows a bolder "M" across the back and has a black line across the nape of its neck.