North American Birds

VOLUME 69 NO3 2016

A Quarterly Journal of Ornithological Record Published by the American Birding Association. The mission of the journal is to provide a complete overview of the changing panorama of our continent’s birdlife.

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333 V O L U M E 6 9 ( 2 0 1 6 ) • N U M B E R S 3 / 4 P E L A G I C B I R D S F R O M C R U I S E S H I P S A LO N G T H E PA C I F I C C O A S T Humboldt, CA to Coos, OR 17 Apr 2012; 530 between Santa Barbara and Monterey, CA 15 Apr 2013; and 50 between Mendocino, CA and northwestern Washington 15-16 Apr 2013. But these were overshadowed by the remarkable total of 200 tallied 20-21 Mar 2015—a warm-water year—with 75 of these 38-72 km off Monterey to Mendocino on 20 Mar, and 125 birds 43-94 km offshore be - tween Douglas, OR and the end of the day 70 km off Jefferson, WA (36 Oregon, 89 Wash - ington) on 21 Mar. Also, a total of 19 very early arrivals were between San Mateo, CA and Coos, OR 1-2 Apr 2016. Large numbers are known to stage during migration off the Strait of Juan de Fuca, BC/WA (Wahl et al. 2005), and recent spring passes by cruise ships through those waters bear that out. High spring counts included 525 off Wash - ington 10 May 2013 (of which 475 were off the mouth of Strait of Juan de Fuca); 500 be - tween Humboldt, CA and Lincoln, OR 30 Apr 2014; 610 off Washington 9 May 2014 (most of which were off Strait of Juan de Fuca) and species were seen during spring and early summer cruises south of northern Washing - ton, where small numbers were noted on sev- eral occasions off the mouth of Strait of Juan de Fuca. The high cruise count to date was the mere 156 birds between Curry, OR and Pacific, WA (with 105 off Coos, OR) 2 Apr 2016. Farther north, the high counts were of a paltry 10 birds off northern British Colum - bia on both 14 May and 19 May 2015 and 200 birds off Cross Sound, AK 18 May 2014. Abundance is highly irregular in fall and winter; this species may be absent some years, particularly farther south, and common in others. Ainley (1976) and Briggs et al. (1987) noted that, off California, this species does not even arrive in numbers until December or January and with numbers peaking between January or February and March. In deep wa - ters farther offshore, peak numbers may oc- cur between January and March (P. Pyle, in litt.). Off British Columbia, maximum num - bers are present offshore during winter and spring (Kenyon et al. 2009). The high early- winter count from cruise ships is of only 250 off Oregon 16 Dec 2015. RED-LEGGED KITTIWAKE (Rissa brevirostris) A juvenile photographed at 45.975° N, 125.279° W 24 Sep 2013 (Figure 8) was published variously as being 99 km west of Tillamook Head or 101 km west of Seaside, Clatsop. However, when the bird was photo - graphed it was actually barely inside Wash- ington waters based on closest point of land criteria—i.e., 98 km west-southwest of Cape Disappointment, Pacific—and the record also has been accepted by the Washington Bird Records Committee. The bird was subse - quently observed flying into Oregon waters. It established tenth records for both states. SABINE'S GULL (Xema sabini) Fairly common to common migrant and uncommon visitor through early summer. Birds were most numerous beyond the shelf break (35-90 km offshore), and some have been found up to 200+ km offshore (Briggs et al. 1987). In spring, this species peaks off California between late April and mid-May (Ainley 1976, Briggs et al. 1987) and off Washington during mid-May (Wahl 1975). Surprising were large numbers of Sabine's Gulls encountered during cruises relatively early in the spring season, such as the 200 off central California (134 of which off western Santa Barbara) 16 Apr 2012; 12 off spend only limited time; but it is almost al- ways outnumbered by Red Phalarope well offshore. Some of the larger offshore counts near the shelf edge in spring reached only 625/day, with highs of 950 between Hum - boldt, CA and Lincoln, OR 30 Apr 2014 and 850 between San Luis Obispo and Mendocino, CA 28 Apr 2015. Inshore, 4700 were off Cross Sound, AK 18 May 2014. Small num - bers linger through early June (e.g., 18 off Del Norte and Humboldt, CA 8 Jun 2013). Presumed southbound migrants appeared in numbers by mid-July: 700 were off Clal - lam and Jefferson, WA 17 Jul 2013 and 250 were off northern and central British Colum - bia 14 Jul 2014. Singles seen off San Mateo, Santa Cruz, and Monterey, and 3 off San Luis Obispo, CA—all with Red Phalaropes—on 11 Nov 2015 were getting late. RED PHALAROPE (Phalaropus fulicarius) Common spring and fairly common early fall migrant; uncommon during early summer. This is almost always the dominant phalarope well offshore—beyond ca. 50 km. Briggs et al. (1987) found them hundreds of km from land. Sizeable numbers may be found north to Washington by late April (Wahl 1975). Some of the larger cruise counts in spring reached 1000-1400/day, with highs of 1880 between Santa Barbara and San Francisco, CA 16 Apr 2012 and 1850 there 29 Apr 2014. In contrast, a mere 5 birds were recorded during a 24–26 Apr 2016 cruise between California and Washington. Small numbers may linger into early June, and a few presumed non- breeders were seen throughout the summer. Apparent southbound migrants appeared by mid-July, e.g., 14 between Coos, OR and Humboldt, CA 18 Jul 2013, and by early Au - gust, e.g., 200 were off Del Norte and Hum- boldt, CA 7 Aug 2013, 42 were off central and northern British Columbia 2 Aug 2015, and 135 were off northern and central Brit - ish Columbia 7 Aug 2015. Late in the season, thousands have been recorded some years from shore during storms in late October and November as far north as Washington; yet highs from the rare cruise-ship sailings then included only 650 between Marin and San Luis Obispo, CA 11 Nov 2015 and 250 off Monterey to Mendocino, CA 1 Dec 2015. Gulls, Terns, Skuas, Jaegers, Alcids –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE (Rissa tridactyla) Surprisingly, few individuals of this irregular Figure 15. Buller's Shearwaters are regular fall visitors in variable numbers along West Coast cruise-ship routes. Small numbers may appear as early as late July. A surprising 28 late-season birds were seen during a cruise on 2 December 2015—a warm-water year—off Oregon and Washington, including this individual off Tillamook County, Oregon. Photograph by Louis Bevier.

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