A petite winter gull

A small gull alone, floating as light as a cork.

Riding the waves.

In winter we have more gulls.

I was thinking about tuning into the winter gull situation when I spotted this one yesterday, just south of the sailing club at Indian Riverside Park in Jensen Beach.

This gull was taking short hops off the surface of the Indian River Lagoon with occasionally dipping or shallow diving to feed.

Not to diss other gulls, but this one seemed to be making more of an effort to get its own food than I often observe in the family Laridae, suborder Lari.

Small smudge behind its ear, small black bill, orangey legs, black-tipped feathers on wings.

I got some decent photos and thought I’d be able to learn this gull when I downloaded the photos back at home.

I had heard of a Bonaparte’s gull before and that’s the first species I checked on All About Birds…

Bonaparte’s Gulls are sleek, small gulls that breed in the boreal forest and winter farther south on ocean coasts, lakes, and rivers. Adults have black heads and red legs in the summer; in winter they have a neat gray smudge near the ear. They fly with ternlike agility, flashing bright white primaries that form a distinctive white wedge in the upperwing. Bonaparte’s Gulls capture flying insects and pluck tiny fish from the water with equal ease.


Dip dive.

I looked at similar species them double-checked on Facebook’s “What’s This Bird.”

Yes, I’ve got me a Bonaparte’s gull.

eBird: Note unique wing pattern: several outer primaries white with black tips. Red legs. Adults in breeding plumage show black head. Nonbreeding and immatures have white head with black spot behind eye. Immatures also show white primaries with blackish-brown markings on the upperwing. 

According to eBird stats, they are seen around here from mid-November to April. Snowbirds… or snowgulls.

Blogged bird #220.

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