February 2002 Mystery Bird

As our contributors correctly concluded, this was a Black-vented Shearwater with a white vent. It was photographed 27 September 1997 in Monterey Bay. The dark bill and rather pale head eliminate Pink-footed Shearwater. Manx Shearwater should show a more contrasting black cap and and white face. It should also show white undertail converts extending nearly to the tip of the tail.

One possibility, not considered in comments is light morph Wedge-tailed Shearwater which also has a grayish bill with dusky tip. It is difficult to assess the tail shape in this photo, but the head and bill pattern seems reasonably consistent with Wedge-tailed which has been recorded in Monterey Bay on a few of occasions. However, only two of those were light morph birds photographed 31 August 1986 and 26 September 1999 (click here for photos). I assume this bird was too small to be a Wedge-tailed but it is difficult to tell from this single photograph. Perhaps people with more experience with Wedge-tailed or those who saw this bird in life might be willing to comment.

To view public comments or join the fray by adding your opinion, click here. Have fun!

Photo © 1997 Greg Lasley. All rights reserved.

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