Apologies for keeping you faithful Seanetters in suspense all weekend, but here are the answers to Friday’s dead bird quiz at last! Bird A, shown in a close up here, is a Sandhill Crane!
Those of you walking beaches anywhere north of Georgia will likely never come across one of these guys, as you can see from the range map, courtesy of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
Sandhill Cranes are generally a more western species, but you can see that the birds do overwinter in Florida and pass through Georgia on their migration to their northern breeding grounds. It’s a very cool find! Rebecca transported the carcass to Dr. Terry Norton at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center for necropsy, so hopefully that will yield some answers on how the crane met its unfortunate end.
As for Bird B, though getting to a species i.d. based on this photo would be tough, you may have been able to determine that the bird is a storm petrel. Storm petrels are in the order Procellariiformes, or tubenoses, and the tubular nostrils atop the bill of these birds goes a long way toward making an i.d. The small size of the bird and the striking white patch on the rump tell us that the bird is, in fact, a storm petrel. That leaves us with two major candidates here on the eastern seaboard: Wilson’s Storm Petrel or Leach’s Storm Petrel. Rebecca reports to us that the bird lacked the bright yellow foot webs that characterize the Wilson’s Storm Petrel, so she concluded that the bird is a Leach’s. Thanks for the photos Rebecca; very cool!