Bonaparte's Gull Life History


Habitat Lakes and PondsBreeds around lakes and marshes in boreal forest. Winters along lakes, rivers, marshes, bays, and beaches along coasts.Back to top


Food Aquatic invertebratesSmall fish and large invertebrates, including insects. Does not eat garbage or carrion.Back to top


Nest Placement

Nest Tree

Nest Description

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

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.
Back to top


Behavior DabblerFlies along and plucks food from surface of water, or plunges into water to pick food from water.Back to top


Conservation Low ConcernNumbers of Bonaparte's Gull have increased over last 100 years. It is difficult to get estimates of population size, but the Waterbird Conservation for the Americas estimates that the species rates at least an 8 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score and lists it as a Species of Moderate Concern. They are not on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List.Back to top


Burger, Joanna and Michael Gochfeld. 2002. Bonaparte's Gull (Chroicocephalus philadelphia), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA.

Kushlan, J. A., M. J. Steinkamp, K. C. Parsons, J. Capp, M. A. Cruz, M. Coulter, I. Davidson, L. Dickson, N. Edelson, R. Elliott, R. M. Erwin, S. Hatch, S. Kress, R. Milko, S. Miller, K. Mills, R. Paul, R. Phillips, J. E. Saliva, W. Sydeman, J. Trapp, J. Wheeler and K. Wohl (2002). Waterbird conservation for the Americas: The North American waterbird conservation plan, version 1. Washington, DC, USA. 

North American Bird Conservation Initiative. 2014. The State of the Birds 2014 Report. US Department of Interior, Washington, DC, USA.

Sibley, D. A. (2014). The Sibley guide to birds, second edition. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, USA.

Back to top