Dead Bird Quiz: there may be no hope edition

10 06 2013

Helen Rasmussen, who walks in Portland Maine, found this bedraggled, waterlogged, mostly skeletal and entirely inside out carcass on her beach this month. She suggested it might be a candidate for the Dead Bird Quiz, and I concur. Not certain we’ll get a species i.d. here, but I do have a great deal of faith in you players of the DBQ. Got any thoughts?

Bird A's wing. One of the only feathered bits still recognizable.

Bird A’s wing. One of the only feathered bits still recognizable.

Bird A's spine, pelvis and leg bones.

Bird A’s spine, pelvis and leg bones.

Bird B was found by Janet Kurz in North Carolina at the end of last month. Janet apologized for forgetting to take measurements of this bird, but asked if we might not figure it out just from the appearance. I think we can! I think she made the right i.d. on this bird, but let’s see if you all agree.

Bird B's underside.

Bird B’s underside.



2 responses

10 06 2013
Wouter van Gestel

A challenge indeed!
Bird A has a very wide pelvis, a shape that is typical for a goose or duck. The wing is white with black primaries, which fits snow goose or male eider. Because there may be a black secondary and a few black body feathers in the picture, my guess is male Common Eider (Somateria mollissima)
Bird B is a cormorant (because of shape of tail, bill and 3-webbed feet), and because of the size and the white belly my guess is a juvenile Greater Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo).


12 06 2013
Biologist on the Edge

Bird A – not a clue.

Bird B – I don’t agree about the Greater Cormorant. The size marker makes it look like the body is too small to be either the Greater or the Double Crested Cormorant (both have a body length over 90 cm while the bird in the picture looks more like 45-50 ish).

The legs are very far back on the body which makes me think Grebe. Unfortunately the only grebe in the NC area should be the pied bill and the bill isn’t right for that.

So I’m going out on a limb and guessing Merganser. With no confidence. I do much better identifying the living!

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