Bonaparte's gull

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Bonaparte's gull
Larus philadelphia1.jpg
Adult breeding
Chroicocephalus philadelphia.jpg
Adult non-breeding
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Charadriiformes
Family: Laridae
Genus: Chroicocephalus
Species: C. philadelphia
Binomial name
Chroicocephalus philadelphia
(Ord, 1815)

Larus philadelphia

The Bonaparte's gull (Chroicocephalus philadelphia) is a small gull found mainly in North America.


The Bonaparte's gull is a small species, larger only than the little gull and the Saunders's gull among all gull species.[2] Adults are 28–38 cm (11–15 in) long with a 76–84 cm (30–33 in) wingspan and a body mass of 162–270 g (5.7–9.5 oz).[3][4] They have a black hood and a short thin dark bill. The body is mainly white with pale grey back and upper wings. The underwing is pale and the wing tips are dark. They have pink legs. In winter, the head is white.

In their first summer, the appearance of Bonaparte's gull is similar to that in its first winter, but paler due to wear. Fewer than 5% of Bonaparte's gulls acquire a dark hood in their first summer, and on those that do, the hood is duller than on breeding adults.


The breeding habitat of the Bonaparte's gull is found near bogs or lakes in coniferous forest across western Canada and Alaska. They nest in conifers, sometimes on the ground.

They are migratory and most move east or west to coastal waters, also the Great Lakes. They are rare vagrants to western Europe, where they usually associate with the somewhat larger black-headed gulls.

These birds forage in flight or pick up objects while swimming or wading. They mainly eat insects, crustaceans and fish. Unlike some other gulls, this bird rarely scavenges.

They are graceful in flight, more like terns.


The Bonaparte's gull was named after Prince Charles Lucien Bonaparte, a zoologist and nephew of Napoleon.

Formerly known as Larus philadelphia, the Bonaparte's gull was moved to the genus Chroicocephalus by the American Ornithologists' Union in July 2008.

Long Island, NY, April 2004. By Tony Phillips.

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  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Larus philadelphia". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 25 March 2014. 
  2. ^ Harrison, Peter, Seabirds: An Identification Guide. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (1991), ISBN 978-0-395-60291-1
  3. ^ CRC Handbook of Avian Body Masses by John B. Dunning Jr. (Editor). CRC Press (1992), ISBN 978-0-8493-4258-5.
  4. ^ Bonaparte's Gull, All About Birds.
  • Seabirds (Helm Field Guides) 2nd edition, by Peter Harrison, 1991, Christopher Helm Publishers, ISBN 0-7136-3510-X
  • "National Geographic" Field Guide to the Birds of North America ISBN 0-7922-6877-6

External links[edit]