Date: 1/30/17 6:36 pm
From: Steve Shultz <sshultz...>
Subject: Re: Sea Bird ID question?
So... jaegers. Think “gull”. The jaeger looks and feels much like a gull, albeit a gull on steroids. Flight and first impressions should be “that looks like a gull, but it’s not quite right”. So if it looked more or less like a gull, but wasn’t, then maybe a jaeger. Jaegers can be all dark. The most commonly seen from shore is Parasitic.

On the other hand a frigatebird is huge. It will never be mistaken for a gull, but could conceivably be mistaken for, say, a Cessna. Frigatebirds soar, they generally don’t flap much, and when they do, they don’t really appear to be enjoying it. If the bird you saw was the size of a small plane, and soaring, or at least only swooping to the water in brief outings, consider a frigatebird. However frigates rarely fly in a straight line just above the water.

A shearwater flies like little else. Think small jet fighter. All banks and turns with set wings (kinda stubby in Manx) It won’t flap much unless there is little to no wind, but when it does, it’s generally labored and quick. Think accipter... flap, flap, glide. The shearwater would be right above the water, banking and turning, likely not flying straight and level.

If it flew like a bumblebee... small, buzzy, compact, in a whir of wings, maybe you saw a Razorbill. Black and white, waterbird, potentially stands out as unusual. Think football with wings. And not too graceful either.

One option that makes sense is a gannet. The 1st year birds display all sorts of plumages from all dark to something like what you describe, the wings would be obviously long and pointed, and the bird may fly just above the water. It’s big and a strong flier. The range of plumages on young birds can be surprising, and even folks used to seeing gannets might stop and look at one of these birds twice.

Otherwise, gulls are an obvious possibility, with young Herring Gulls a dark brown that could appear darker depending on the light. Similarly, a Laughing Gull in winter plumage might fit the bill.

Steve Shultz
Apex, NC

From: David Gardner (via carolinabirds Mailing List)
Sent: Monday, January 30, 2017 7:34 PM
To: Jack Rogers
Cc: <carolinabirds...>
Subject: Re: Sea Bird ID question?

I would love for it to be a Manx - that would be a lifer, but at least with Sibley, it appears that the Shearwater wings appear much straighter than the wings of the bird i observed, which is why i got a slight impression of a Frigate bird. I will say, the coloration does match perfectly, it's just the shape of the wings that seems contrary.


On Mon, Jan 30, 2017 at 6:37 PM, Jack Rogers <jack...> wrote:

Not a Manx Shearwater, was it? Certainly matches your description.

On Mon, Jan 30, 2017, 6:36 PM David Gardner <carolinabirds...> wrote:

Hi Folks,
I'm staying on Jekyll Island, GA (I know not technically carolinabirds territory, but figured you could help with the ID).
I was on the beach just before sunset (sun behind me - if that helps understand the lighting), and saw what appeared to be a black/very dark brown backed and winged bird with very pointed wings, white or pale belly and dark neck and head, flying very purposefully with powerful wing beats about 10ft off of the water.
The first species that came to mind was a jaeger species - but I definitely did not see the white patches on the wings on the top or underside of the wings. Thinking that that rules out the jaegers (I may be wrong), the next thought was an odd looking Frigate bird. I say that just to give you an idea of the overall impression, because I'm pretty convinced it was not one. Key things that it didn't have was - it did not have an exceptionally long tail, and even though it had very aggressively angled wings, the wings did not appear long enough to be a frigatebird. Also, I did not notice a significant bill.
So, my conclusion is a jaeger without the white patches, but I don't know if that is possible. If that's the case, then which jaeger (Pomarine?). Any thoughts, insights on this would be helpful.

Sent from my iPhone

Jack Rogers
Mt Pleasant, SC

Join us on Facebook!