- Chroicocephalus philadelphia
28–30 cm (11-11¾ in)
Generally easily identified among small hooded gulls by light grey back, pink legs, small black bill, and less extensive black on primaries in flight.
Little Gull is smaller with thinner shorter bill, slightly more extensive hood, red legs (1st winter pink), and very short primary projection.
Black-headed Gull is slightly larger with perhaps slightly lighter back, less extensive brownish hood, slightly larger red bill (in all plumages except juvenile which has pale bill), extensive black on primaries in flight, and reddish legs (1st winter has orange).
Franklin's Gull is larger with much darker back and larger bill.
Laughing Gull is much larger with much darker back and much larger bill.
Breeds in Alaska and east across Canada to James Bay with non-breeders present in summer on north-eastern coasts.
Winters from the Great Lakes southwards and on the Atlantic coast from New England south to the Caribbean. Leaves breeding grounds in late July with many gathering off Nova Scotia in late August-early September, return movement in April-May.
Fairly frequent vagrant to the Western Palearctic most often recorded in the British Isles but also in Iceland and Scandinavia, the Netherlands, Belgium and France, Germany, Hungary, Iberia, Morocco and the Azores. British records (c.115) mainly in the south-west but also east to Norfolk and north to Shetland. The records are spread throughout the year and include long-staying and returning individuals and both adults and immatures.
Click images to see larger version
Photo © by wrexile1
Newbiggin, Northumberland, October 2006
1st summer bird
Photo © by bobsofpa
San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary, California, USA, May 2007
1st winter bird
Photo © by raulroa
Bolsa Chica Wetlands, Huntington Beach, California, USA, November 2007
This is a monotypic species.
Some authorities still place this species in genus Larus.
Breeds beside pools and swamps in tundra and taiga. Out of the breeding season found at freshwater and saline lakes, following the plough on farmland and by the sea. In coastal areas seen on sandy shores and mudflats, estuaries, harbours and on coastal lakes and lagoons.
They breed near bogs or lakes in coniferous forest, nesting in conifers, or on the ground.
The diet includes insects, crustaceans and fish; they rarely scavenge.
Less vocal than most gulls but when feeding utters a high nasal cheeer or chirp.
- Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2018. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2018. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
- Collins Field Guide 5th Edition
- Collins Bird Guide ISBN 0 00 219728 6
- BirdForum Opus contributors. (2023) Bonaparte's Gull. In: BirdForum, the forum for wild birds and birding. Retrieved 2 June 2023 from https://www.birdforum.net/opus/Bonaparte%27s_Gull
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