Smaller than most gulls, Bonaparte’s Gull is most easily identified by its size (13 inches), thin black bill, and bright orange legs. In summer, this species has a black head, gray body, and light gray wings that, unlike those of the similarly-patterned Laughing Gull (Leucophaeus atricilla), have white leading edges and black tips. In winter, this species becomes white-headed except for a small black spot behind the eye. Male and female Bonaparte’s Gulls are similar to one another in all seasons. Bonaparte’s Gull breeds over a wide area of southern Alaska and Canada east to Quebec. However, despite its large breeding territory, this species nests only locally within its breeding range. In winter, Bonaparte’s Gulls migrate south to the southern Great Lakes and coastal areas of the U.S.south to central Mexico. In summer, Bonaparte’s Gulls breed along open edges of northern evergreen forests near water, being among the only gulls to nest in trees. In winter, this species may be found along large bodies of fresh or salt water, including on riverbanks, sandy beaches, and the open ocean. Bonaparte’s Gull eats small fish at all seasons, but this species also eats insects while further inland in summer. Due to the relative inaccessibility of this species’ breeding grounds, most birdwatchers only observe Bonaparte’s Gulls during winter, when they are relatively common along the coasts. At this time of year, this species is most easily observed plunging into the water to catch small fish. Bonaparte’s Gull is most active during the day.
- Bonaparte's Gull (Larus philadelphia). The Internet Bird Collection. Lynx Edicions, n.d. Web. 20 July 2012. http://ibc.lynxeds.com/species/bonapartes-gull-larus-philadelphia.
- Burger, Joanna and Michael Gochfeld. 2002. Bonaparte's Gull (Chroicocephalus philadelphia), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/634
- Chroicocephalus philadelphia. Xeno-canto. Xeno-canto Foundation, n.d. Web. 20 July 2012. http://xeno-canto.org/browse.php?query=Chroicocephalus+philadelphia.
- Peterson, Roger Tory. Birds of Eastern and Central North America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1980. Print.
- eBird Range Map - Bonaparte's Gull. eBird. Cornell Lab of Ornithology, N.d. Web. 20 July 2012. http://ebird.org/ebird/map/bongul.
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