Boning up on Bonaparte’s

With several Christmas Bird Counts coming up in just over a month, it’s worth taking a look at two more easy to identify gulls.

Mew Gull (Larus canus)
The Mew Gull (Larus canus) is a small white-headed gull with a delicate yellow bill and yellowish legs making it a relatively easy gull to identify.

The Mew Gull (Larus canus) is a small, white-headed gull with a thin yellow bill, yellow legs and black and white wing-tips. It’s a particularly west coast gull, and in winter can be found along the Pacific coast from British Columbia to California. In a large flock, Mew Gulls often stand out due to the size difference in comparison to other gulls.

Bonaparte's Gull (Larus philadelphia)
Bonaparte’s Gulls (Larus philadelphia) are smaller than Mew Gulls and easy to identify with their reddish pink legs and black bills. In winter they sport a white head with a noticeable black spot behind the eye.

The Bonaparte’s Gull (Larus philadelphia)  is a slightly smaller gull with reddish-pink legs and a thin black bill. In winter, the black spot on the head behind the eye is distinctive (in breeding, the gull has a complete black hood). In flight, the Bonaparte has a delicate hover, often dabbling feet or bill in the water while feeding. The white leading edge of the wing and black wing tips are very noticeable.

Bonaparte's Gull (Larus philadelphia)
In flight, the Bonaparte’s Gull (Larus philadelphia) the black wing-tips and white leading edge of the wing is distinctive.

These two smaller gulls are worth looking for in winter on Vancouver Island. I photographed both of these species with several other gulls while birding at Air Force Beach in Comox, British Columbia in late October.