BONAPARTE’S GULL

BONAPARTE’S GULL(Chroicocephalus philadelphia) – (See images below)
DESCRIPTION: The Bonaparte’s Gull has a black head (hood) in breeding plumage. The bill is black and the legs are pinkish orange. The neck, breast and under parts are white and the wings are grey with black wing tips. In non-breeding plumage adults have a white head with a small black patch behind the eye. Juveniles look different, with a black band along the tail and a black ‘M’ mark on the underside of the wings when seen in flight from below (see photo). Both sexes are similar. This is a small gull at around 35 cm (14 inches) long.
VOICE: https://www.xeno-canto.org/species/Chroicocephalus-philadelphia
NAME: This gull got its name from French ornithologist Charles Lucien Bonaparte who first identified it in Philadelphia in the USA. The name ‘Gull’ is of Celtic origin and means the same. The Latin genus name ‘Chroicocephalus’ is from Greek and means ‘color’, and ‘head’.
HABITAT: Boreal forest in its breeding range, and during migration along the coasts and around the Great Lakes.
DIET: The Bonaparte’s gull eats insects, and is known to prey on termites, especially when those insects emerge in swarms and fly in search of new territories. They also prey on salmon eggs and dive to get at them. Overall their diet is varied.
NESTING: Unlike other gulls, the Bonaparte’s builds its nest in conifers in small colonies not far from water. An average of three eggs of varied colors are laid. Both parents incubate them, and also care for the chicks.
DISTRIBUTION: The breeding range of this gull is in the western part of Canada mainly. It migrates to the whole of USA and also to northeast Mexico and the Caribbean. Some vagrants have been reported on Hawaii. (See note below on bird vagrancy.)
DISTRIBUTION MAP: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bonaparte%27s_gull#/media/File:Chroicocephalus_philadelphia_map.svg
ON PEI: The Bonaparte’s gull is very common on Prince Edward Island in the fall and common in the summer during its migration. It does not breed on the island.
CONSERVATION: Bonaparte’s gull populations are widespread across their North America territory, and they are increasing, so they are not considered at risk.
NOTES: The Bonaparte’s gull is part of the ‘hooded’ gull group, which are gulls with a black head (in breeding plumage).
Vagrancy: In biology this means an animal going way outside its normal range. For birds, this can happen when there are storms and they get blown off course. On other times, the bird simply wanders in a different direction than usual. Here’s an article about vagrancy in birds.
SIMILAR SPECIES: Little Gull, Sabine’s Gull, Laughing Gull – Because of its small size the Bonaparte’s gull can be confused with a tern, but the latter have longer wings and a long, forked tail, and also they only have a black cap, not a black head like the gulls.
In breeding plumage the Bonaparte’s gull can also be confused with the Black-headed Gull, but the latter has a dark red bill and dark red legs.
REFERENCES: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bonaparte%27s_gull
https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Bonapartes_Gull/id
https://www.arkive.org/bonapartes-gull/larus-philadelphia/
http://identify.whatbird.com/obj/459/overview/Bonapartes_Gull.aspx
Bonaparte’s Gull (.pdf document, Alaska Fish and Wildlife Service)
https://www.borealbirds.org/bird/bonapartes-gull

Bonaparte's gull, adult in non-breeding or winter plumage - Indian River area, PEI - Aug. 20, 2016 - by Chris Rice
Bonaparte’s gull, adult in non-breeding or winter plumage – Indian River area, PEI – Aug. 20, 2016 – by Chris Rice
Wood duck males in eclipse plumage with Bonaparte gulls - Borden-Carleton area, PEI - Aug. 23, 2017 - © Chris Rice
Bonaparte gulls with Wood duck males in eclipse plumage – Borden-Carleton area, PEI – Aug. 23, 2017 – Chris Rice
Bonaparte's gulls, adult and juvenile - Souris area, PEI - July 27, 2013
Bonaparte’s gulls, adult and juvenile – Souris area, PEI – July 27, 2013 – Roberta Palmer
Bonaparte's gull, adult non-breeding - Indian River, PEI - Summerside area - Nov. 16, 2016 - by Chris Rice
Bonaparte’s gull, adult non-breeding – Indian River, PEI – Summerside area – Nov. 16, 2016 – by Chris Rice
Bonaparte's gull 1st winter plumage Indian River, PEI - Nov. 16, 2016 - by Chris Rice
Bonaparte’s gull 1st winter plumage Indian River, PEI – Nov. 16, 2016 – Chris Rice
Bonaparte Gull in flight - Rustico, PEI - Nov. 25, 2017 - © Matt Beardsley
Bonaparte Gull in flight – note the first winter plumage – Rustico, PEI – Nov. 25, 2017 – © Matt Beardsley
Bonaparte's Gull, adult breeding plumage - Basin Head lagoon, PEI - Aug. 27, 2017 - Sandra Meade
Bonaparte’s Gull, adult breeding plumage – Basin Head lagoon, PEI – Aug. 27, 2017 – Sandra Meade

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