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Mystery seabird - California, USA. (1 Viewer)

jmorlan

Hmmm. That's funny
Opus Editor
United States
On 02 January 2021 I was photographing Brandt's Cormorants from Pigeon Point, San Mateo County, California USA for a Christmas Bird Survey. I need help identifying the bird on the right. The Brandt's Cormorant on the left is for size comparison. There are no other useful images. Any insights would be appreciated.
 

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KC Foggin

Super Moderator
Staff member
Opus Editor
Supporter
United States
The one on the left looks like a Cormorant. Not sure of the one on the right.
 

rkj

Well-known member
Pigeon Guillemot, at this time of year in that area, would actually be quite unusual and, if present, should show much more white. Common Murre is my best guess, though that should also show more white (though not as much as Pigeon Guillemot). It actually looks more like a Thick-billed Murre, though I would not make that call, of a bird very rare locally, from this picture. Hopefully someone will see more here than do I.
 

Jeff Hopkins

Just another...observer
United States
Not an expert by any stretch, but from what I can see on line, Thick-billed Murre would have more white at the water line near the front of the bird. I know it's far less likely, but the amount of white seems a better fit with Long-billed Murrelet.

Just putting it out there.
 

Nutcracker

Stop Brexit!
Not an expert by any stretch, but from what I can see on line, Thick-billed Murre would have more white at the water line near the front of the bird. I know it's far less likely, but the amount of white seems a better fit with Long-billed Murrelet.

Just putting it out there.
That would be far smaller in comparison to the Brandt's Cormorant (y)
 

birdmeister

Well-known member
United States
My first thought was Common Murre, like Nutcracker. Perhaps its wing is out a bit, covering what would normally be a bit more white? Otherwise, what I can see of the face and bill looks right for the species.
 

tom baxter

Well-known member
Common Murre was my first thought, but it requires an explanation as to why it is not showing white flanks. I think the wing is simply blocking a view of the white flanks. In addition to Pigeon Guillemot being smaller and showing more white, the bill is far too large. Not really sure what else it could be.
 

RafaelMatias

Unknown member
Portugal
Common Murre was my first thought, but it requires an explanation as to why it is not showing white flanks. I think the wing is simply blocking a view of the white flanks. In addition to Pigeon Guillemot being smaller and showing more white, the bill is far too large. Not really sure what else it could be.
Common Murre for me too. Auks frequently have wings hanging to the sides (overhanging the flank feathers and thus not covered by them) between frequent dives, so that can easily explain the absence of the white flanks on the photo.
 

jmorlan

Hmmm. That's funny
Opus Editor
United States
Thanks all. Sorry for the delay. The only similar species in the area that day was Common Murre and that's most likely what it was. Thick-billed Murre probably cannot be excluded, but would be a mega-rarity at this location. Thanks again.
 
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