Wildlife Journal Junior!
New Hampshire PBS

Home       |       Wild Files       |       N.H. Animals       |       Animals A-Z       |       Watch Online

Bonaparte's Gull - Larus philadelphia

bonapartes gull


 Kingdom: Animalia
 Phylum: Chordata
 Class: Aves
 Order: Charadriiformes
 Family: Laridae
 Genus:   Larus
ICUN Redlist - World Status: Least Concern Least Concern


bonapartes gullBonaparte's gull is a small gull that is 11-15 inches in length with a wingspan of 30-31 inches. It has white undersides and breast, slate gray upperwings and back, and black tips on its wings. It has a black bill, reddish-orange legs and feet, and an orange lining on its mouth. During breeding season, it has a black face and head with white crescents above and below its eyes. In winter, its head and face are white. Males and females look alike.


Bonaparte's gull breeds in Alaska and Canada. It winters along the Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf Coasts and along the Great Lakes.




bonapartes gullBonaparte's gull is found near lakes, rivers, marshes and bogs near coniferous forests during the breeding season. In the winter, it is found along lakes, rivers, marshes, bays, estuaries, and shores.



bonapartes gullBonaparte's gull eats small fish, crustaceans, snails, and marine worms. It takes its food from the surface of the water or it dives into the water to catch its prey. During breeding season, it eats insects that it catches in the air or plucks from vegetation or from the surface of the water! Bonaparte's gull doesn't scavenge for food or eat at garbage dumps like many other species of gull.

Life Cycle

bonapartes gull Bonaparte's gull nests in small colonies on islands or lakeshores. The nest is cup-shaped and made with twigs, small branches, and bark. It is lined with lichen, grass, and moss and placed in a conifer tree. The nest is usually 4-15 feet off of the ground. The female lays 1-4 spotted green eggs and both the male and female incubate the eggs for about 24 days. Both parents care for and feed the chicks. Bonaparte's gull mates when it is two years old.


Bonaparte's gull is the only gull that nests in trees. Bonaparte's gull is named after French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte's nephew, Charles Lucien Bonaparte, who was a famous ornithologist in the 1800s.

Audio Credit: xeno-canto.org Paul Driver cc logo