By: Pat Coate
While recently visiting the Dunkirk Harbor on the eastern edge of Lake Erie, I was able to observe a flock of Bonaparte’s gulls feeding near the docks. There were at least 30 birds flying very near the dock. With good regularity, one would plunge down into the water and come out with a small fish. It would immediately fly away from the flock to try and enjoy its meal in peace. Only once did I observe another gull give chase and successfully make the hunter drop its prize. Neither gull ended up with the fish – clearly making it the true winner.
In my readings about Bonaparte’s gulls here is what I learned (hopefully from trustworthy internet sources):
• Named after a nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte. Charles Lucien Bonaparte was a highly regarded ornithologist in the early 1800s.
• Tern-like in behavior, in fact my first thought was that it was a tern.
• Nests in trees – only gull that regularly does.
• Eats mostly insects during breeding season and won’t be seen at garbage dumps as it is not a scavenger.
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