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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320 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 Additional variation in the completeness and accuracy of the data obtained resulted from the varying number of observers present (it is very easy to miss many birds if only one or two people are looking) and on whether the species totals obtained were "pooled" among several observers or not. In addition to using observer field notes, two critical sources of information for this paper were the appropriate regional reports in North American Birds and the data available through eBird. Place names in italics are counties. As a geographic reminder to readers, the state des - ignation for each unique locality is included once in every species account. Specific locality data (latitude and lon- gitude) are included for records involving the rarest occurrences, when those data were available. Offshore locations relative to the mainland or islands were calculated using closest-point-of-land criteria (Figures 5-7), rather than east-west latitude; and most such measurements were carried out using GoogleEarth. taken later in the season, during late August 2009 and late August–early September 2013. And there have been two late- season sailings aboard S e a t t l e - s o u t h e a s t e r n Alaska round-trip cruis - es: one in mid-Septem- ber 2011 and one in early September 2015. The accounts that fol - low treat the status of all avian species recorded from cruise ships within 200 nautical miles of shore off the West Coast between 1995 and 2016. Typically, each account begins with the spring season, followed, as ap - propriate, with informa- tion from the summer, autumn, and early win - ter. Most accounts are fleshed out with addi - tional offshore status and distribution information as gleaned from the literature. Locality data range from extremely specific to very general, and they are at least partly a reflection of the relatively recent, widespread use of GPS devices by birders aboard ves - sels at sea. Such precise latitude/longitude and distance from land measurements have been commonly available for many sightings only since the end of the 2000s. Also, some observers are more inclined to record such data than are others. The use of 20-minute or 1-hour transects for recording pelagic data for eBird also has resulted in greater spatial and temporal resolution compared to simply re - cording numbers for the entire day. But even for these shorter transects, many observers typically recorded only the transect starting point for most birds seen; and a cruise ship traveling at 18 to 21 knots covers a little over 35 kilometers (ca. 23 statute miles) during that period. Precise GPS readings were re - corded for many, though not all, scarce and rare species. In general, data from cruises prior to about 2009 tended to be less precise than those from trips since that time. ver or Seattle and south-central Alaska (Whit - tier or, less often, Seward), and vice-versa. These trips spend most of the journey in pro - tected, inner waters, although they do cruise for part of one day in the open, northern Gulf of Alaska, as well as in Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound in British Columbia, and—if theyvice- make a stop in Victoria—along the out - side (west side) of Vancouver Island. Also not treated here are the California to Cabo San Lucas and Mexican Riviera round-trip cruises offered by several companies; nor cruises to and from Hawaii to ports in California and British Columbia, which spend at least a lim - ited amount of daylight inside the mainland EEZ. Only a small handful of observers have taken these latter two cruises; even fewer have reported their findings. Both itineraries provide for some very good pelagic birding in waters that are mostly poorly known, includ - ing opportunities to observe additional spe- cies of Pterodroma, as well as Bulweria, petrels. Methods The data in this paper were derived from the spring and fall Pacific Coastal sailings between California and southern British Co - lumbia, as well as from the late spring and summer sailings on the San Francisco-south - eastern Alaska round-trip cruise. Between 1995-2016, observers boarded approxi - mately 25-27 of the two-day or three-day, mid-April to mid-May Pacific Coastal spring cruises. Almost all of these trips were taken since 2005, and the data from the earliest trips are very sparse. Fewer than ten of these sailings originated in San Francisco, and on those sailings, almost all of California's waters were missed during daylight. Between mid- September and early October, observers were on board for approximately 18-21 of the two-day or three-day southbound cruises, about 13-14 of these since 2005. Additional spring dates spent offshore included 20-21 Mar 2015 and 1-2 Apr 2016; those later in fall and in early winter were 25-26 Oct 2012, 18-19 Oct 2014, 10-11 Nov 2015, 1-2 Dec 2015, and 16-17 Dec 2015. The number of San Francisco to southeastern Alaska cruis - es taken by birders between early May and early August totaled 12, all but 2 in the pe - riod 2013-2016. Two additional sailings were Figure 5-7. Maps showing offshore boundaries of counties, states, province, and the Exclusive Eco- nomic Zone (EEZ) in the area covered by this paper. Although county and state legal jurisdictions ex- tend just several miles offshore, bird-record data are typically kept by county and state avian authori- ties out to the 200-nautical-mile (EEZ) limit. Most organizations and committees utilize "closest point of land" criteria in determining these boundaries. Also shown here are many of the coastal mainland and island geographic features mentioned repeatedly in the text. Maps by Kurt Radamaker.

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