Bonaparte’s Gull

Range Map
Chroicocephalus philadelphia

The Bonaparte’s Gull is the smallest gull seen regularly in North America. They nest in Boreal forests of Canada and Alaska, but spend winters along the North American coast, lower Mississippi Valley and the Great Lakes. They are the only gull species known to regularly nest in trees.

Recent DNA studies revealed information to revise the long-standing classification of the Bonaparte’s Gull in the genus Larus. Now the accepted genus for these birds is Chroicocephalus. 

Taxonomists regard the Bonaparte’s Gull as monotypic (i.e. there are no subspecies).

My meetings with this species have been in Alaska, Oregon, California and Texas. My favorite recollection of these meetings came April 2016, when I was in Klamath Falls (Oregon). A migrating flock of small, black-headed gulls flew in to the waterway I was filming, and began foraging on midges hovering over the surface of the water, and I captured some of their feeding behaviors.


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