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Help me identify this bird
By Spookiesquemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 454, member since Mon Oct 13, 2008
On Wed Mar 03, 2010 12:13 AM
Edited by Spookiesque (203000) on 2010-03-03 00:34:50

I can't seem to identify this species. I've checked several bird identification sites and they have been no help. Can anybody lend me a hand? :)

Not sure if it would help to say that I was in Southwest Oregon on a wildlife conservation area that contained different animals from all over the world. It's the time of year that various migratory birds come to the Pacific Northwest to rest in the wetlands. There were so many of these birds that I would have to say they were migratory/native and not part of the park's more permanent and exotic residents. And I would feel really silly if they are a common bird of the area, having never seen them (or perhaps I just never noticed them) before.

1 Replies to Help me identify this bird

re: Help me identify this bird
By Chaconnemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 6359, member since Thu Jul 12, 2007
On Wed Mar 03, 2010 09:45 AM
My best guess is that they are Steller's Eider, a small Asiatic species that normally only visits Alaska. I might further guess that since the eye patch is brown rather than black these may be juveniles; or, are sporting winter plumage. To see them in Oregon would be quite rare I should think.

My identification is based upon characteristics listed in the National Geographic Society's "Field Guide to the Birds of North America" and Chandler Robbins' (who was an acquaintence of mine many years ago when his daughter was in my wife's Girl Scout troop) "A guide to Field Identification, Birds of North America."

I have never birded in (or even been to) Alaska or the Pacific Northwest so I have no immediate familiarity with the area.

I might suggest that you send your photograph to the Patuxent Wildlife Refuge, a federal facility about 20 miles from where I live, in Maryland. This is the US Dept of the Interior's HQ for avian research. They have experts who might definitiively identify the birds and if in fact they are Steller's Eiders may be interested in a rare sighting out of its normal habitat. It is even listed as uncommon in Alaska and the Aleutian Chain. Send all the pertenent data such as the exact location, time of day, date, weather conditions if you remember them. They may have been blown off course by El Nino which is causing some unusual weather patterns such as the 50 inches of snow in "tropical" Washington, DC where I live.

Here is an Email address for a point of contact:

Another place which might be interested and helpful in Cornell University's Ornithology Center . . .

This site has an Email link to them. Cornell is the leading bird study center in the academic world.