My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

Bonaparte’s Gull, Chroicocephalus philadelphia

Note: this post, while published, is a work in progress, as are all posts in this series, My Photo Life List. My goal is to photograph every species of bird that is seen on a regular basis here in Michigan, working from a list compiled by the Michigan chapter of the Audubon Society. This will be a lifelong project, that I began in January of 2013, and as I shoot better photos of this, or any other species, I will update the post for that species with better photos when I can. While this series is not intended to be a field guide per se, my minimum standard for the photos in this series is that one has to be able to make a positive identification of the species in my photos. The information posted here is from either my observations or the Wikipedia, the online free encyclopedia, however, I have personally shot all the photos appearing in this series.

Bonaparte’s Gull, Chroicocephalus philadelphia

The Bonaparte’s Gull is a small gull, 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 under wing 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.

Their breeding habitat is near bogs or lakes in coniferous forest across western Canada and Alaska. They nest in conifers, sometimes on the ground.

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. They were named after Prince Charles Lucien Bonaparte, a zoologist and nephew of Napoleon.

On to my photos:

Bonaparte's Gull

Bonaparte’s Gull

Bonaparte's Gull

Bonaparte’s Gull

Bonaparte's Gull

Bonaparte’s Gull

Bonaparte's Gull

Bonaparte’s Gull

Bonaparte's Gull

Bonaparte’s Gull

Bonaparte's Gull

Bonaparte’s Gull

Bonaparte's Gull

Bonaparte’s Gull

Bonaparte's Gull in flight

Bonaparte’s Gull in flight

Adult Bonaparte's gull

Adult Bonaparte’s gull

Adult Bonaparte's gull

Adult Bonaparte’s gull

Adult Bonaparte's gull

Adult Bonaparte’s gull

This is number 125 in my photo life list, only 225 to go!

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

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18 responses

  1. Mona

    Beautifully taken……

    September 25, 2013 at 1:38 am

    • Thank you Mona!

      September 28, 2013 at 1:16 am

  2. Beautiful shots! Apparently you are able to post while on vacation?

    September 25, 2013 at 6:26 am

    • Thanks! Yes, you can schedule posts that you have saved as drafts to be published at a future date and time.

      September 28, 2013 at 1:17 am

  3. I don’t normally think of gulls as being beautiful birds, but these are quite lovely. Great photos!

    September 25, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    • Thanks, next spring I hope to get one in breeding plumage when they’re even prettier.

      September 28, 2013 at 1:18 am

  4. plantsamazeme

    Nice shots, congratulations on 125!
    : )

    September 25, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    • Thanks Chris, I’m still plugging away at them.

      September 28, 2013 at 1:18 am

  5. Hope you have nice weather there.
    I’m looking forward seeing your photos.:)

    September 25, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    • Thanks!

      September 28, 2013 at 1:19 am

  6. Great shots, specially the last one

    September 26, 2013 at 4:27 am

    • Thank you very much!

      September 28, 2013 at 1:19 am

  7. Love the subtle colors in the water in the flight photo. Perfect.

    September 27, 2013 at 8:02 am

    • Thanks, even I luck out some of the time.

      September 28, 2013 at 1:21 am

  8. A very elegant gull, no?

    September 28, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    • Yes it is, I hope for breeding colors next time I see one.

      September 28, 2013 at 2:29 pm

  9. Every species of bird in Michigan–wow, that is a grand ambition. But how fun for you. Will we be seeing some pics of the UP in the near future?

    September 28, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    • Thanks, and yes you will, shortly if I can put a post together.

      September 28, 2013 at 2:30 pm