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  #1  
Old 02-18-2017, 11:20 AM
Tin Boat Tin Boat is offline
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"Bonito Birds"

What is the species of gulls that we call "bonito birds" ?
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  #2  
Old 02-22-2017, 10:43 AM
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Well, you are right that different species of birds are often associated with particular species of feeding fish. The best example I am aware of is that on the Cape....in June......terns are almost always associated with feeding blues while shearwaters, gulls, and gannets with bass.

I'm never there during "bonito season" but, since no one is answering your question...perhaps you can get an answer by a process of elimination. First off....are you sure the bird is a "gull" or are you using that term loosely? Secondly, do you have a clear mind picture of what the birds look like? IF you are sure it is a GULL, then there aren't that many possibilities and a search of a birding site for "birds of Cape Cod" or "seabirds of Cape Cod" will get you to places that will have specific checklists of birds to be seen there and the seasons. From there you can look up the pictures of the specific gulls and make an identification.

Birds seen on/above feeding fish on the Cape can be gulls.....or terns, petrels, shearwaters, and gannets. Other possibilities but not sure I have ever seen them there in June (as opposed to August when the bonito are there) would be pelicans, boobies, and maybe even frigates. Warm water associated fish might also mean warm water associated birds as well.

The Mass. Audubon Society is the biggest, most organized, and richest birding group in the world......TONS of material and help available. One picture would get you there.
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Old 02-22-2017, 05:22 PM
Captcastafly Captcastafly is offline
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Laughing gulls over false albacore blitz.
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Old 02-22-2017, 10:38 PM
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Ray,

Laughing gulls was my first instinctive thought. Your picture is interesting BUT.....according to primary sources the summer plumage of adult Laughing Gulls is the typical black head, red bill, white ring around the eye. Juveniles take 3 years to get that plumage and generally identifying juveniles between species is VERY difficult and takes a real expert...and a lot of guessing.

Assuming your picture was taken in August or September, what are the odds that ALL the birds in the picture are juveniles and not an adult in sight?

As a birder I'm shakey on gulls even here in the NW and almost clueless about gulls of the Cape during the summer. Are you SURE??
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Old 02-22-2017, 10:53 PM
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OK, I found this:

http://coastalstudies.org/about/stel...lls-and-terns/

"Laughing gulls, Larus atricilla, are the smallest of the gulls on the Bank in summer (16” or 41 cm). Their distinctive summer plumage and raucous call makes them easy to pick out of a crowd of gulls and terns. Their dark gray backs are accented by black wing tips and head; the bill, legs and eye ring are a deep, rusty crimson; white “eye lids” ring their dark eyes. In fall, before migrating south, their heads turn white with a pale “ear spot,” their feet and bills turn black."

The last sentence would seem to confirm Ray's picture....depending on date.

BUT....Bonaparte's Gulls arrive about the time the Laughing gulls depart and look very similar in winter (and summer) plumage.


Also, there aren't all that many SUMMER options, since the full, normal summer roster of CC gull species is.....Herring, Ring-bill, Greater Black-backed, and Laughing. Virtually NONE of the others looks like the birds in Ray's picture....at any season or stage in development. BUT, the winter gulls are the Boneparte's and Kittiwakes, and the Laughing and Bonaparte's COULD overlap in place and time and DO look very similar in both summer and winter plumage.

So...we are definitely down to 2 species.

Ray, remember when the picture was taken?
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Old 02-22-2017, 11:14 PM
Captcastafly Captcastafly is offline
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Thanks Peter.

It's funny, the gulls only show up in the fall, so it makes sense they come from the banks. They are by far, the best hunters of the gull family, most times picking up sprayed bait without even touching the water.

Glad you like the photo, being a accomplished photographer yourself.
See the albie bulge below. These gulls work hand and hand with this fish and not the small anchovies all around. Wow! How nature works. So next time you see even a single gull around flying low to the water, chances are they are over at least one fish.
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Old 02-22-2017, 11:31 PM
Captcastafly Captcastafly is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ppatricelli View Post
Ray,

As a birder I'm shakey on gulls even here in the NW and almost clueless about gulls of the Cape during the summer. Are you SURE??
Peter,

Like you I've done extensive research on the Internet and books. No one around here in New England seems to know the answer either. Can't understand why, so my hypothesis has never been collaborated by others, but only by knowledge I've accumulated by my own researched.
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Old 02-23-2017, 09:02 AM
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Ray and TinBoat,

I just spent the better part of two hours looking up all I could about Laughing and Bonaparte's gulls. My first conclusion is to confirm that I never want to take on gull identification as a serious hobby.

Sorting out the adults in mating plumage is relatively easy. It is the juveniles (and hybrids) that drive people whacko. It is also a problem that sorting out the juveniles is so hard that, while lots of pictures of juveniles probably exist, no one wants to go out on a limb to make a definitive identification. finding pictures with a FIRM ATTRIBUTION of species is relatively rare.

The Laughing gull takes 3 years to reach adult plumage, each year with slightly different plumage, and there are 2 seasonal variations for each year. That makes 6 variations.....constantly grading rather than distinct. There are few enough pictures of Laughing juveniles but those I found look more closely to Ray's picture than anything else I could find.

I couldn't find enough pictures of Bonaparte's juveniles to reach any conclusion but do note that the Bonaparte's reach mature plumage in 2 years so there are fewer "juveniles plumages" and fewer (hard-to-identify) juveniles out there muddying up the identification water.....so to speak.

What IS clear to me is that my rejection of the possibility that Ray's picture could possibly be ALL juveniles.....is probably incorrect. They clearly are not classic winter plumage ADULT Laughing gulls. Could there be a short transition phase between summer and winter for adults? Dunno. Even more frightening to consider.

But bottom line, based on 1) general abundance of Laughing Gulls, greater abundance of (3 years to maturity) Laughing Gull juveniles, general juvenile plumage including clearly seen wide, dark tail band, and slender bill, and firmly crossed fingers.....I think those are juvenile Laughing Gulls.

it would be interesting to show that picture to the local Mass. Audubon "gull expert".....and I assure you that they exist AND are findable through their website, AND are usually happy to take on an identification challenge....and see what he/she says.

OK, now I am going to go pursue some less stressful variations of cabin fever.
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  #9  
Old 03-11-2017, 11:53 AM
browndog browndog is offline
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Thought those birds were shearwaters.
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Old 03-12-2017, 05:38 PM
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Btrowndog,

See my first post where I ask the OP if he can narrow it down a bit, as the options might be terns, gulls, gannets, shearwaters, etc.. You might be right. If a shearwater, most likely Sooty Shearwater, I think Of course, there is also the possibility that not everyones's "bonito birds" are the same as someone else's. My conjecture was on the probability they were gulls. Capt. Castafly, who should have a weighty opinion based on experience as a guide in RI, thinks that term refers to gulls....with Laughing Gulls the likely choice based on lots of factors.....including Ray's photograph.
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Old 03-13-2017, 09:29 PM
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Sooty shearwater is correct. Laughing gulls make a very distinct call. I associate terns with bonito. The shearwaters pile up on the albies when they're blitzing bay anchovies. At times they're so thick it's hard to get a cast into the fish without catching a bird.
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