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.

Issue link: http://nab.aba.org/i/778845

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335 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 Summering non-breeders and early-returning failed breeders occurred in small numbers June through mid-July. Numbers of southbound migrants oc - curred by mid- or late July, such as 24 be- tween Lane, OR and Humboldt 18 Jul 2013 and 39 between Humboldt, CA and Tillamook, OR 29 Jul 2013. During late August and Sep - tember, the species may be uncommon to common, with high cruise counts of 1029 birds 70-100 km off Oregon (with 861 off Tillamook) 22 Sep 2009 (also a record date for Long-tailed Jaegers and Sabine's Gulls), 361 between Clatsop, OR and Sonoma, CA 15-16 Sep 2015, and 1670 between Pacific, WA and Coos, OR (with 1620 of these off Tillamook and Lincoln) 20 Sep 2016. Later in the season, 2 were off Oregon 18 Oct 2014. A few birds were seen into late October, e.g., single adults ca. 66 km off Point Sur, Monterey and 86 km off Point Sal, Santa Barbara, CA 26 Oct 2012. SOUTH POLAR SKUA (Stercorarius maccormicki) Uncommon migrant and summer visitor well offshore, with almost all records beyond 30 km, many near the shelf break. The first birds arrived in spring in early to mid-May, even as far north as off Oregon and Washington (e.g., 9 May 2013 ca. 44 km off Curry, OR, 4 May 2016 ca. 91 km off Lincoln, OR)—ear - lier than previously noted—and the species occurred regularly by the third week of May. A total of 3 birds (1 photographed) off Cali - fornia 30 Apr 2014 were likely record early, as follows: ca. 85 km west of Point Arguello, Santa Barbara, ca. 90 km west-southwest of Point Buchon, San Luis Obispo, and ca. 60 km southwest of Southeast Farallon Island, San Francisco. Singles were slightly early 65 km off Monterey, CA 3 May 2016 and ca. 63 km off Mendocino, CA 4 May 2016. The waters off northern Vancouver Island and southern Haida Gwaii appear to be especially impor - tant for this species, as counts there between late May (1 as early as 19 May 2014 ca. 70 km west of northern Vancouver Island) and early August were regularly up to 6 individu - als/day, and with a very high 11 birds tallied 2 Aug 2015 and 10 birds seen 7 Aug 2015. High counts farther south included 6 birds off Oregon 20 May 2011, 6 birds off central Cali - fornia 14 May 2012, 10 birds off Del Norte and Humboldt , CA 7 Aug 2013, 7 birds be - tween Clatsop and Lincoln, OR 21 May 2014, 6 birds off Curry and Coos, OR 12 Jul 2015, and 7 off northern Washington 19 Jul 2015. South Polar Skuas are very rare to casual in Alaska waters, where 1 was 11 km off Yakobi CASPIAN TERN (Hydroprogne caspia) One seen ca. 80 km off Del Norte, CA 5 May 2007 was very unusual well offshore. COMMON TERN (Sterna hirundo) Uncommon to rare spring migrant offshore out to the shelf edge, north to Washington. Briggs et al. (1987) thought this species most numerous within 25 km of shore, where cruise ships are rare. It was missed on a majority of spring cruises, and most daily totals involved just single digits. A published report of an exceptional 92 birds off Oregon 8 May 2009 (North American Birds 63: 494) is in error. In fall, this species is somewhat more nu- merous, though still very uncommon beyond inshore waters. It is regular offshore to at least 50 km and was recorded as far as 90 km off Pacific, WA 15 Sep 2015. The high cruise count was only 15 birds between San Mateo and Santa Barbara, CA 29 Sep 2015. ARCTIC TERN (Sterna paradisaea) Uncommon spring and uncommon to fairly common early fall migrant, uncommon visi - tor in early summer south of the breeding range—at all seasons primarily beyond 25 km from shore, and even out to 450 km (Briggs et al. 1987) and 870 km (Kenyon et al. 2009). Peak numbers in spring occurred from very late April and May. A surprising finding of these cruises was the somewhat earlier-than-expected appearance of this spe - cies in spring: 1 was ca. 61 km off southern Curry, OR 17 Apr 2012, 3 were 72 km off Humboldt , CA and 5 were 66 km off Del Norte, CA 16 Apr 2013, and a total of 45 were be - tween San Francisco, CA and Lincoln, OR 21- 22 Apr 2011. Also perhaps surprising were the moderate numbers of individuals encoun - tered later in spring—through the beginning of June—as this species had been termed "rare in spring" as recently as 2010 by many land-based authorities. However, this belief was likely the result of few single-day pelagic trips getting far enough offshore: most Arctic Terns are seen beyond the shelf-break. Maxi - mum spring counts included a very high total of 167 birds between Del Norte, CA and Pa - cific, WA (163 in Oregon waters) 8 May 2009, 35 off California, Oregon, and Washington 12-13 May 2011, and 27 between Santa Bar - bara and San Francisco, CA 9 May 2012; also see above. Small numbers were still passing northward through early June (e.g., 4 were 48 km off southern Humboldt 8 Jun 2013). well off British Columbia, even beyond the EEZ, especially during winter and spring. Uncommon offshore farther south, as far as southern California, where daily counts did not exceed single digits. A few birds lingered through mid-May. An adult 54 km off Coos, OR 20 May 2016 was somewhat late for that age-class. Regular in summer in small numbers south to off Washington. Larger counts occur offshore during late fall and winter, e.g., 15 be - tween Tillamook and Curry, OR 10 Nov 2015. HYBRID GULLS Hybrids of Glaucous-winged and Western Gulls are uncommon to fairly common in spring as far as near the shelf edge—ca. 55- 75 km offshore—off Washington; uncommon south of there; rare out to 90 km. Hybrids of Glaucous-winged and Herring Gulls are uncommon to fairly common to the shelf edge, ca. 55-75 km offshore—rare out to 100 km—south to British Columbia; un - common south of there. In the case of both hybrids, larger counts occur offshore during late fall and winter. LEAST TERN (Sternula antillarum) This species is found foraging on a regular basis up to 40 km off San Diego and Los An - geles, CA. Exceptional was an individual fly- ing northward ca. 66 km west of San Miguel Island, Santa Barbara, CA (34.11° N, 121.16° W) 29 Apr 2014, perhaps migrating to a northern California nesting site. Figure 17. The second documented record of Great Shearwater for British Columbia was established by this individual seen from a cruise ship 115 km northwest of the northern end of Vancouver Island on 5 August 2013. Photograph by Owen Schmidt.

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