Friday, August 26, 2011

Bonaparte's Gull

Bonaparte's Gull photo © Ralph HockenBonaparte's Gull (Larus philadelphia)

The Bonaparte's Gull is named after Charles Lucien Bonaparte, a nephew of Napoleon, who was a leading ornithologist in the 1800s in America and Europe. This small gull has an adult body that is roughly 17 inches (45 cm) in length with a wingspan of 35-40 inches (90-100 cm). This gull has a dark gray to black head and bill, a white neck, gray body and wings, and bright orange-red legs and feet. It is one of the few gulls that prefers to nest in trees during mating season.

During the summer, the Bonaparte's gull can be found from the Great Lakes to as far north as Alaska. While inland during the summer, they feed chiefly on insects that they capture in the air, pick from croplands, or gather from the surface of lakes or ponds, Bonaparte's gulls migrate south to spend the winter on the Pacific coast where they feed on small fish, crustacea, snails and marine worms.

Bonaparte's Gulls reach maturity when they are two years old and prefer to nest in trees during mating season. Breeding and nesting time frame for Bonaparte's Gulls is usually in July to August. They nest singly or in loose colonies located on islands or lakeshores. The fir or spruce tree is the most common choice for nesting. and nests are built of small twigs, moss, lichen, grass, and generally any foliage that is easily available.

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