[Tweeters] Re: Alcid identification help needed in Puget Sound

Sarah Guenther sarahguenther8 at gmail.com
Mon Apr 13 14:10:43 PDT 2015


RE: Alcid identification help needed in Puget Sound

Hi John,

You answered my call for help once again.

I checked on the Common Murre at the time and was comfortable that wasn't
it because the white on a Common Murre seems to stay above the water line;
my bird showed no white until it "stood up" to flap it's wings. All the
white was below the water line. However, I'm glad you told me a Common
Murre had been spotted recently in the area. I'd seen some back in early
March - glad to know they are still around.

Having done more research, I think it could have been a Rhinoceros Auklet
if it's still early enough that it hadn't fully grown its horn, but I am
going to wait to see it again in better light (wishful thinking, right?)
and verify the yellow bill. Previous view was after 7 pm and I have western
exposure, so the lighting wasn't good for seeing colors. I'll try to spot
this bird again before the sun gets too low over the next few days..maybe
I'll get lucky.

You mentioned the Seabird Survey. I noticed I live in the middle of the
Seabird Survey triangle formed by DeMolay, Kopachuck, and Penrose State
Park. I almost came out once to the Seabird Survey on DeMolay because my
husband works for PenMet Parks was coordinating entrance to that site with
someone from the Survey. It was a few years ago and I was still new to
birding and was too intimidated. Maybe I'll try to come help next time. I
know I could learn something and maybe even be able to contribute.

Thanks again for your input.
Sarah

On Mon, Apr 13, 2015 at 10:24 AM, John Riegsecker <jriegsecker at pobox.com>
wrote:


> Sarah,

>

> Could it be a Common Murre? We saw one 4/4/15 near the Fox Island bridge

> on the Seattle Seabird Survey. It had a white belly and often stretched

> and flapped its wings. They are also brownish.

>

> We also had Rhinoceros Auklets at the Fox Island fishing pier. They had

> noticeably yellow bills.

>

> I am on Carr Inlet in the Puget Sound and need some help on an alcid

>>

>> identification.

>>

>>

>>

>> At first I thought this unidentified bird was a marbled murrelet - it was

>>

>> the same shape with its very short neck. I've seen marbled murrelets last

>>

>> few months from this location with its usual black and white patterning.

>>

>> But today it had brown/grey coloring which was new to me and I thought

>>

>> perhaps it was transitioning into it's breeding colors. I was completely

>>

>> settled on this ID, but...

>>

>>

>>

>> The problem is that this bird had a white belly below the water line which

>>

>> was visible the several times it stretched up to flap its wings. I read

>>

>> that marbled murrelets in breeding plumage have a brown belly; this one

>>

>> definitely had a white belly but only visible below the water line. The

>>

>> breast was *maybe* greyish/brown with darker wings, but the colors were a

>>

>> bit difficult due to being a little bit back-lit.

>>

>>

>>

>> Then I tried to "make it" a rhinoceros auklet because of the coloring, but

>>

>> for the life of me I couldn't see any horn or other distinguishing facial

>>

>> characteristics. I had a good long look at it, but it was a little bit of

>> a

>>

>> distance in the afternoon light and I was using my scope. It's possible I

>>

>> just wasn't close enough.

>>

>>

>>

>> But I'm also wondering if maybe it's a juvenile of some sort, making the

>> ID

>>

>> difficult for me. It's tail feathers were not smooth in the back, there

>>

>> were several out-of-place.

>>

>>

>>

>> What should I be looking for next time this bird comes into my view to

>> help

>>

>> me make a positive ID. Since I'm spotting from my backyard, there's a good

>>

>> chance I may catch sight of it again over the next couple weeks. It just

>>

>> doesn't look like there are that many Alcid choices at this location.

>>

>>

>>

>> Thanks,

>>

>> Sarah G.

>>

>> sarahguenther8 at gmail.com

>>

>>

> --

> John Riegsecker

>

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