Long-tailed Jaeger

intermediate juvenile Long-tailed Jaeger (Stercorarius longicaudus)

In the past year, mostly since Elliott was born, I've really scaled back my hobby of birding to the level of only opportunistically enjoying birds that happen to be near me when I'm outside for reasons other than birding. Recently, I saw the jaeger in the photos above while pompano fishing on the beach in Escambia County, FL with my friend Steve and my Uncle Jim and Aunt Gayle.

I have relatively little experience with pelagic species, so needed some help with the identification of this potentially confusing juvenile jaeger. My friends Bob and Lucy were very helpful in correctly identifying this bird. I'll include some points that Lucy made below, as well as one additional point made by another birder experienced in jaeger identification.

1. very strong, crisp-edged barring of the undertail coverts. Parasitic has weak, blurry barring, Pom has strong, but bill is not Pomarine.

2. virtually no pale tips to the wing tips; Parasitic has pale tips to the wing

3. bill shape (gonys incl) matches Long-tailed and has a hook at the tip more dominant in Long-tailed than in Parasitic

4. amount of dark on the bill looks to be about 40-50% dark, which is just right for LT

5. barring on the back is crisp and white, not buffy as in Parasitic or Pomarine.


heidi said...

Very nice!! Jaegers can be tricky beasts - we had one that hung out in Abilene for a few weeks and it was only when the review committee told us that they accepted it as Pomarine did we have any confidence in it! (for the discussion, see http://www.bigcountryaudubon.org/2007/11/12/kirby-jaeger-id-pomarine/ ) Your critter definitely has perfect vent barring for LT =)

Kelly said...

Thanks for the link to the pomarine discussion! That was pretty exhaustive! Hope your move to Marathon goes well.

heidi said...

Aye, I think Martin was the only person on texbirds who had any pelagic experience (and extensive experience for that matter!) so the write-up was quite an education for those of us who had no hope to see actual pelagic birds being... pelagic. My two jaegers have been in Illinois (a Long-tailed inland on a massive lake) and Abilene (again being inland, but on a less massive lake). Tricksy.

Thanks for the moving wishes, we got our non-electric washing [barrel?] thing today, just need to figure out a wringing/drying option and finish painting 1/2 the house! If you ever have the urge to take the wee one trekking in Big Bend, do let us know =)

Kelly said...

We're huge fans of Big Bend, and will definitely let you and Matt know if we head that way while you're living nearby!