Ding Ding Ding! Mary Wright nailed the Dead Bird Quiz with her responses of A)Dovekie and B)Long-Tailed Duck. Has a challenger emerged to the primacy of Doug Suitor? Doug himself tipped his cap to Mary, who astutely noted the diminutive size of the headless alcid.
While Dovekies are not unheard of in the waters off New Jersey, author/super-birder Kenn Kaufman describes their distribution thus, “Small numbers come as far south as New England waters in winter, rarely farther, but the vast majority remain farther north.” While there’s no way to say from whence this particular Dovekie came, or how it met its demise, it does seem likely that this bird is part of the overall influx of alcids into the northeast which was detailed in an earlier post.
The Long-tailed Duck found on the Cape, on the other hand, is a common winter resident around the Cape and islands, but does not commonly turn up on SEANET beaches. These northern breeders congregate in dense groups over the winter, and are a particularly vocal species. The one found by Mary Myers is a male; while some of the characteristic facial markings are somewhat obscured by sand and general bedragglement, the pink stripe on the bill is rather distinctive.
The SEANET blogger would like to point out that the photo shown here of the Long-Tailed Duck is by the talented photographer Michael Daniel Ho. Check out his other great bird photos at his website. Michael has been kind enough to grant SEANET permission to use his photos on the blog as an educational aid, and we are most grateful for that favor.
Finally, a note from the Department of Shameless Self-Promotion. After SEANET’s plea for blog visits to put us over the top on the Nature Blog Network stats, we actually dropped in our ranking! Is this a cosmic rebuke for making such an open plea? We hope not. We also want to thank blog reader Dawn Fine who tweeted about us on Twitter to help get the word out; we appreciate it, Dawn! And we humbly beseech the blogo-verse to forgive us our transgression and to raise our stats once again if it sees fit.