Common Name

Scientific Name

Photo by Donna Dewhurst
Photo Courtesy of U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Bonaparte's gull, Larus philadelphia, spends the summer breeding season in coniferous woodlands near ponds and lakes in Alaska and Canada. It winters along both the east and west coasts of the United States, and in the Great Lakes region. Bonaparte's gull is a widespread migrant in localized areas of the inland United States. Individuals and small flocks of transient Bonaparte's gulls have been spotted throughout Utah, though they are uncommon in the state.

The diet of Bonaparte's gull consists primarily of aquatic insects that are picked off the surface of the water, although Bonaparte's gulls will also dive into the water from great heights to capture fishes and other aquatic animals. It is believed that a mating pair finds an abandoned tree nest and lines it with a soft material. Three eggs are then laid and incubated for about twenty-four days. The young, which are fed by their parents until they leave the nest, attain their adult plumage after two years.


  • Ehrlich, P. R., D. S. Dobkin, and D. Wheye. 1988. The birderís handbook[:] a field guide to the natural history of North American birds. Simon & Schuster, New York. xxx + 785 pp.

  • National Geographic Society. 1996. Field guide to the birds of North America, 2nd edition. The National Geographic Society, Washington, D. C.

  • Behle, W. H., Sorensen, E. D. and C. M. White. 1985. Utah birds: a revised checklist. Utah Museum of Natural History, Occasional Publication No. 4. Salt Lake City, UT.