Dead Bird/alien pod Quiz Answers

4 11 2010

First, a story that captures the essence of SEANET volunteers’ dedication. Helen Rasmussen, volunteer in Portland, Maine, periodically finds dead birds fresh enough to be submitted for necropsy (which is funded by a grant specific to Maine). She recently sent me an email to which I think many Seanetters will relate:
“I realized I had forgotten about the seagull in my fridge. It’s been on the bottom shelf triple wrapped in a Sunday NY Times plastic bag. I’m also fond of using these bags for my swiss chard, so it really blends in. Shall I assume you don’t need it for necropsy?”

And now, the dead bird thrills continue with the answers to Tuesday’s DBQ. Two DBQ devotees piped up on this one; John “Quick Draw” Stanton lived up to his name, posting his guesses within approximately 30 seconds of the Quiz appearing. And Mary “Dark Horse” Wright offered her own thoughts. Both were correct on Bird A for sure, which is a Snowy Egret. Though the bird is in rough shape, the giveaway is the black legs with vibrant yellow feet, setting it apart from other white egrets like the Great Egret, or white morphs of Great Blue Heron or Reddish Egret. Bird B is a trickier one. Both John and Mary thought it was a Ring-billed Gull wing. I would like to argue for subadult Bonaparte’s Gull. Take a look at the photo of Bird B in the last post and compare to this photo of the living, subadult Bonaparte’s.

Young Bonaparte's Gull. Photo by J. Poklen.

There are definite similarities between the RBGU and BOGU, but our specimen shows less of the solid dark color of the RBGU’s primaries, and in the BOGU, the feathers alongside the dark, outermost primaries are a much more striking white than in the RBGU.

Compare with the young Ring-billed, whose wing shows more brown and less of the pure white of the Bonaparte's.

As I have said before, I claim no title to Dead Bird I.D. Expert, so I am open to persuasion, but I hope I have successfully explained my position on this one.

Finally “Bird” C, the alien pods. John suggested that they are the seeds of the Queen Palm, while Mary asserted sea coconut seeds. I have no idea what’s correct, but I can at least offer pictures of both so you may judge for yourself. Here’s a bit of explanation from seabean.com on these mystery pods, colloquially known as “sea beans:”

Sea-beans (also known as drift seeds) are seeds and fruits that are carried to the ocean, often by freshwater streams and rivers, then drift with the ocean currents and (hopefully!) wash ashore.

These sea-beans don’t initially come from the sea and while some are indeed beans, many are not technically beans at all! Some “sea-beans” are technically fruits that contain seeds. Nonetheless, if they drift to and into the oceans and wash ashore, we collectively refer to them as “sea-beans”.

These sea-beans come from trees and vines that grow along tropical shores and rain forests all over the world. The seeds or fruits fall from their parent plant into waterways, such as the Amazon River, then drift through inlets to reach the ocean. They travel with ocean currents until they wash up on a beach somewhere, perhaps thousands of miles from their origin. Sea-beans are quite hard and buoyant, which helps them survive their long-distance voyage.”

"sea coconut" (Manicaria saccifera)

Queen Palm fruits

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