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The Bonaparte's gull is a small species, larger only than the little gull and the Saunders's gull among all gull species. 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). 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.
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.
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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Coppermine River, Nunavut
- BirdLife International (2012). "Larus philadelphia". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
- Harrison, Peter, Seabirds: An Identification Guide. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (1991), ISBN 978-0-395-60291-1
- CRC Handbook of Avian Body Masses by John B. Dunning Jr. (Editor). CRC Press (1992), ISBN 978-0-8493-4258-5.
- 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
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Bonaparte's gull.|
|Wikispecies has information related to: Chroicocephalus philadelphia|
- Bonaparte's Gull Species Account - Cornell Lab of Ornithology
- Bonaparte's Gull - Larus philadelphia - USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter
- Chroicocephalus philadelphia on Avibase
- Bonaparte's Gull videos, photos, and sounds at the Internet Bird Collection
- Bonaparte's Gull photo gallery at VIREO (Drexel University)