Bonaparte’s Gull

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I was hanging out at the beach looking for something other than seagulls, but couldn’t resist how cute this small gull is. I had no idea what I was looking at and assumed it was probably just a younger seagull. It wasn’t until I got home that I was able to identify this as a non-breeding Bonaparte’s gull.

Identifying the Bonaparte’s Gull

One of the reasons I didn’t recognize the Bonaparte’s gull was because I was expecting to see their breeding plumage, which in hindsight doesn’t make a lot of sense as I don’t live in their breeding range. During breeding, the gull’s head goes entirely black.

Finding Gulls

Unlike some of the larger, year-round seagulls, you won’t find this gull eating trash at the landfill. Look along the shores and along rivers during their spring migration. They range from the Canadian Territories and Alaska during breeding, all the way to the eastern coast of the US and the western coast of Mexico during their non-breeding season, with their migration area sandwiched in between. This is one of the smallest species of gulls.

Bonaparte’s Gull Feeding

The Bonaparte’s gull enjoys munching on fish and other watery invertebrates. They will also snack on salmon fry and eggs in western areas, and fly larvae and marine worms in coastal areas.

Non-breeding Bonaparte's Gull, August 15, 2021


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