If you get a chance to visit Devil’s Lake right now, you may see a rolling cloud of white birds moving across the lake. These are Bonaparte’s Gulls. Chances are, they are here for the easy meal that the spring hatch of the lake flies provides.
Bonaparte’s Gull are temporary visitors to Devil’s Lake State Park and will soon be heading to their summer nesting areas around the lakes, marshes and boreal forests of Canada.They may pass back through the park in autumn, but again only for a few days or weeks before heading further south for winter. Oh, and if you’re wondering, they are named after a guy named Charles Lucien Bonaparte, and not the famous diminutive french dictator…
Bonaparte’s Gulls are pretty easy to recognise when they pass through the lake. In addition to being smaller than the other gulls at the lake and hanging out in a single large flock, they are normally sporting their “breeding” black hood, which they lose in non-breeding plumage later in the year. They can also be a noisy bunch and are easy to locate by their calls. You can listen to their calls here.