Last week, a non-Seanetter (a civilian, if you will) contacted me via this blog. Scott Clark, fishing off the Florida coast was the first to alert me:
“I was out fishing in my boat off a place called Peck Lake off Stuart FL about 50 yards off the beach I was catching spanish mackeral when I noticed a bird that was flying/swimming under water it reminded me of a penguin I had never seen a bird like it before it hung around the boat I threw it some pieces of fish and it readily ate them when I got back I started to look up what kind of bird it was the closest thing was a razorbill but the bird I saw did not have white in its beek when I ran across your website and saw the picture of the razorbill in winter plumage That was the exact bird I saw I guess its prity lost we are used to snowbirds here in FL just not real ones.”
Scott went out fishing again a few days ago and reported seeing small groups of 7-8 of the birds foraging, as well as one dead one floating in the water.
Sure enough, Scott was observing a larger phenomenon, and Razorbills are being seen on both coasts of Florida. Local news has picked up the story, citing eBird’s Marshall Iliff on the event. We are, of course, in the business of tracking dead birds here at SEANET, and if you find a dead Razorbill during a planned SEANET walk, that data will be captured in our database. But we and other wildlife groups including the US Fish and Wildlife Service are interested in capturing a broader scale on this irruption. So, to our southern readers, if you see live Razorbills, I encourage you to report them to eBird so both numbers of birds and their geographic extent can be recorded. And if you see dead Razorbills while not on a designated SEANET walk, please report them to the Wildlife Health Event Reporter.
Our Facebook friends at Birding Aboard tell us that the Florida Museum of Natural History is interested in any specimens for their collection, which has been, up to now, rather thin on Razorbills. That may not be the case for much longer. If you find a specimen, please wrap it up in a plastic bag and keep it frozen. Contact the Museum to see if they are indeed interested. And remember, even specimens in rough shape can often be useful for their skeletal remains.
Keep your eyes and ears open, dear readers, and keep us posted on the latest and greatest news on RAZOs!