Dead Bird Quiz: beaks and bits

28 04 2015
Aren't you feeling nostalgic for this? (Diana Gaumond, right, and a friend stand at the edge of frozen Cape Cod Bay.)

Aren’t you feeling nostalgic for this? (Diana Gaumond, right, and a friend stand at the edge of frozen Cape Cod Bay.)

I had a post in mind related to gulls, but I have been spending hours lately uploading pictures of all the dead birds and bits that were revealed on northern beaches when the snow and ice melted. The most recent walks on many of these beaches has been as if through a bird mausoleum. So I hope you will forgive me if I indulge in yet another dead bird quiz, since this one includes an opportunity for me to wax poetic about some interesting anatomic features of seabird legs.

Before I do that, please try your hand at these i.d.s, which I am sure will give you all no trouble at all.

Bird A: Found by Mary Myers on Cape Cod last month.

Bird A: Found by Mary Myers on Cape Cod last month.

Bird B: Another from Mary. This one found in April.

Bird B: Another from Mary. This one found in April.

Bird C: Severed,  skeletal leg found by Dennis Minsky on Cape Cod.

Bird C: Severed, skeletal leg found by Dennis Minsky on Cape Cod.

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4 responses

28 04 2015
Wouter van Gestel

Nice one, let’s try:

Bird B: Thick-billed Murre (Uria lomvia), distinctive shape, with a white line along the gape.
Bird B: a small grebe with dark cap and white cheeks: Slavonian Grebe (Podiceps auritus)
Bird C: not much left of it, but if I have to take a guess: based on size, the rather short, thick tarsus, scale pattern, dark colour and some brown feathers, I would say Brent Goose (Branta bernicla)

Wouter

28 04 2015
capteagleeyes

Bird A Looks Common Loon, Bird B Looks Rt Loon Bird C ?

28 04 2015
capteagleeyes

Bird A Thick-billed Murre, Bird B=Horned Grebe. I agree on Brant for bird C.

29 04 2015
Edward

Bird A: Thick-billed Murre: no doubts. Bill shape, the light stripe at the gape and the typical little hook at the tip of the upper mandible.
Bird B: Horned/Slavonian Grebe: the head pattern fits that species, bill shape too, but the bill colour is puzzling me a bit. H/SG in wintering plumage has a lighter bill, but normally not as light as this one; at least not entirely. Is shows a slightly darker upper side of the culmen. Maybe there is some discolouration due to a stay in the water. A juvenile Pied-Billed also crossed my mind because of the over all light yellowish bill, but the head pattern doesn’t fit. So H/SG.
Bird C: That is a really difficult one. Estimating tarsus length (by the ruler in the background) gives about 110 mm, maybe a bit less. That rules out smaller Branta geese and leaves us with a large B. canadensis. So I would say Canadian Goose (ssp maxima).

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