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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338 N O R T H A M E R I C A N B I R D S 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 off Lincoln 2 Apr 2016 was the high for Or- egon waters. A few birds were seen off Oregon into early May. Farther south, 2 off Mendocino, CA 16 May 2012 and 1 seen 51 km off Punta Gorda, Humboldt, CA 24 May 2014 were late. This species is very rare or casual beyond the shelf edge; e.g., 2 were seen from a research vessel ca. 255 km off Grays Harbor, WA 17 Aug 2014 (M. P. Force, in litt.). In late fall and winter, Ancient Murrelets are found off California primarily between late November and early March (Ainley 1976) or between February and early April (Briggs et al. 1987). There have been few cruise-ship sailings during this period, however, and none were seen south of Oregon. CASSIN'S AUKLET (Ptychoramphus aleuticus) This species is most abundant off southeast - ern Alaska and especially off Haida Gwaii and northern Vancouver Island during the spring and summer. High cruise counts at the former included 2050 birds between Chatham Strait and the British Columbia border 30 May 2014 and 800 between Chatham Strait and off Forrester Island 6 Aug 2015; off northern British Columbia, there were 11,000 birds 6 Jun 2013 and 22,000 birds 19 May 2014 (most of which were streaming by late in the day toward northern Vancouver Island), and with 20,000 birds 14 May 2014 and 24,000 on 26 May 2014 off southern Haida Gwaii alone. Highs off Washington were typically only 100-250 birds, with 400 seen between Clallam and northern Grays Harbor 21 May 2014. From Oregon southward, most spring and summer single-day cruise maxima did not, surprisingly, exceed 70 individuals, even when ships passed fairly close to the Farallon Islands, where large numbers of Cassin's Auk - lets nest. The highest totals were a mere 150 and125 birds in the vicinity of Cordell Bank Marin/Sonoma (close to the Farallones) 29 Jul 2013 and 31 Jul 2015, respectively, and 115 off Humboldt, CA 20 May 2016. Briggs et al. (1987) state that most Cassin's are, indeed, concentrated near breeding colonies during late spring and summer. Post-nesting dispersal occurs August–Oc - tober, and a possible seasonal shift in depth preference was mentioned by Briggs et al. (1987), who stated that most birds were found over the outer shelf May–October but in deep water (2000 m+) seaward of the slope November–April. A cruise off Washington on 18 Oct 2014 noted them as being "very common." Fall and early winter cruises failed to detect the large numbers known to occur Island, San Francisco, CA (37.25° N, 123.43° W) 16 Sep 2015. SCRIPPS'S / GUADALUPE MURRELET Many Scripps's/Guadalupe Murrelets seen from cruise ships were not seen well enough to identity to species; and in some cases, Craveri's Murrelet was not eliminated, either. As mentioned above, most (though not all) Guadalupe Murrelets are found in deeper wa - ters well offshore, whereas Scripps's Murre- lets are found over both deeper, offshore and shallower, inshore waters. Records involving this species pair from at-sea surveys off Brit - ish Columbia ranged between 20 July and 25 October (Kenyon et al. 2009). Notable were the following cruise sightings: 68 km west of the northern end of Vancouver Island (or 36 km southwest of Sartine Island), BC (50.67° N, 129.38° W) 16 Jul 2013; 58 km west of Sartine Island (50.88° N, 129.74° W) 6 Sep 2015, and 2 birds 33 km west-southwest of Brooks Peninsula, Vancouver Island (50.04° N, 128.36° W) 11 Sep 2015. High counts included a staggering 73 birds off Oregon (10 off Tillamook, 63 off Lincoln) 27 Sep 2006 (associated with waters also frequented that day by surprising numbers of albacore); 9 birds 70+ km off Tillamook and Lincoln 29 Sep 2008; and 12 off San Francisco, CA 30 Sep 2008. CRAVERI'S MURRELET (Synthliboramphus craveri) This species is possible off southern and cen - tral California in fall. The only cruise report was of 2 birds seen 34 km off Carmel, Mon - terey 29 Sep 2015. ANCIENT MURRELET (Synthliboramphus antiquus) Found regularly in spring south only to waters off northern Washington. Locally common off northern Vancouver Island and especially Hai - da Gwaii and in southeastern Alaska, where a common breeding species. High counts near Haida Gwaii included 630 on 6 Jun 2013, a spectacular 10,000 on 14 May 2014, and 4200 on 26 May 2014. Numbers of young chicks with adults were recorded at sea in Hecate Strait and south of Haida Gwaii by mid-May (e.g., 14 May 2014). Numbers decline there substantially after early or mid-June, although at-sea surveys off British Columbia found maximal numbers during June (Kenyon et al. 2009). The highest cruise total from off south - eastern Alaska was 300 near Sitka 2 Jun 2013. Peak counts in spring off Washington did not typically exceeded 10 individuals, and 7 birds 2014; 52 km off Humboldt (40.30° N, 124.99° W) 2 Jun 2014; and 70 km off southern Hum - boldt (39.56° N, 124.64° W) 7 May 2015; 6 were off Del Norte (2 each 79 and 80 km off Point St. George) and Humboldt (2 were 49 km off Punta Gorda) 21 May 2015; and single pairs were 41 km off Arcata and only 16 km off Cape Mendocino, Humboldt 20 May 2016. Off Oregon, 2 were 152 km off Cape Blanco Curry (42.44° N, 126.35° W) 13 May 2015 and 2 were 56 km off Bandon, Coos 21 May 2015. Scripps's Murrelets occurred fairly regu- larly well to the north beginning in mid-July and early August, e.g., ca. 16 km northwest of Point Reyes, Marin, CA 31 Jul 2015 and 50 km off southern Humboldt, CA 7 Aug 2013. They are rare off Washington and southern British Columbia during late summer and fall (Wahl 1975, Karnovsky et al. 2005, Wahl et al. 2005), at least as far north as off central Vancouver Island (M. P. Force, in litt.). Off Oregon and northern California, however, Scripps's (mostly) and/or Guadalupe Mur - relets were recorded most years in small numbers during the September southbound repositioning cruises. Representative records from such cruises included "several" off Or - egon 17 Sep 2007 and 80 km off Lincoln, OR 27 Sep 2010. Departure dates in late fall or early winter are poorly known; there appear to be no reports off British Columbia after late October (Kenyon et al. 2009), none for Washington other than two beached carcass - es in December 1941 and 2014, and none for Oregon after November except for beached carcasses in January 2015 (Wahl et al. 2005, Herlyn and Contreras 2009; North American Birds 69: 285). Briggs et al. (1987) note that the species retreats from north of Point Con - ception, CA "after November." GUADALUPE MURRELET (Synthliboramphus hypoleucus) Probably a rare but regular post-breeding visi - tor to waters well offshore (beyond those vis- ited by most one-day pelagic trips) between mid-July and mid-October. This species has been recorded during research cruises north as far as southern British Columbia (Kenyon et al. 2009) and once north to off southern Haida Gwaii (2 birds on 2 Aug 1994; M. P. Force, in litt.). Many Guadalupe/Scripps's Murrelets seen from cruise ships are not seen well enough to identity to species, however. Individuals identified as Guadalupe Murre - let were: 3 birds 78 km west of Point Reyes, Marin, CA (37.89° N, 123.88° W) and 1 bird 61 km south-southwest of Southeast Farallon

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