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Checklist S23308314

N of Key West ~15 NM, Monroe County, Florida, US ( Map )
Date and Effort
Wed May 06, 2015 12:30 PM
eBird Pelagic Protocol
Party Size:
1 hour(s)
13.0 mile(s)
Diana Doyle
m/v Semi-Local (our 34-foot catamaran) for SeaBC Sea Bird Count project, running Marco Island to Key West (120 mi total), 13 mph, 189M. Waves 2-3 ft, NE 5, 10% distant clouds, 80f, approx. 60 ft depths. flying fish seen again and a 4-foot sea turtle.
5 species (+1 other taxa) total

In hour six of continual spotting for any birds, I saw two white birds feeding ahead in the very far distance. They not only caught my eye because it was a bird sighting (finally!), but the feeding behavior seemed all wrong for a white tern or booby. They were not diving quite like a tern or booby, and occasionally resting on the water unlike an all-white tern species (vs. the black-and-white tropical terns). They were on our rhumb line and were approaching us. As one of the two flew by the boat, it passed at eye level (I was about 15 ft up at the flybridge), only about two boat widths away (~40 ft). As it passed so close, without binoculars I saw the big bright red bill (which had a presumed flying fish hanging out half-swallowed!) and I could see the crisp wrap-around black eye line (correction: I couldn't see the back of the head at this side viewing angle, but the eye-line swooped up, appearing as if it was connected at the back of the head because it was a long extended eye-line swoosh, not just a short eye patch). As it flew by, I knew to get on the back. With binoculars I saw that the back was barred black and white (not the add'l bold black bars of a WTTR). The bird was an adult, but it did not have full-length streamers on the tail. I kept thinking, could it be a ROYT and I'm mistaken? But all the key field marks were noted in the short time I had and also the overall build was not of a tern, since it was too stocky (especially in its tail area) and powerful. The precise location was N24 48.45 W081 53.08, approx. 20 miles N of Key West. Added later: Reviewed my photos and one shot did capture the bird distant, flying away. I couldn't see it at the time, perhaps due to sun glare, angle or just the close fast fly-by (distracted by the fish in the bill), but the photo, although grainy, super-cropped, and heat-shimmered, clearly shows a long streamer tail on the adult bird.

© Diana Doyle

Average Quality
tropicbird sp.

I could not get a close look at the second bird, since it all happened so fast as the birds approached our boat and flew on. But I could get bins on this bird when it was distant. It had the same stocky, chunk-tailed build as the other bird, no long tail streamer either, but the stout pointed bill was yellow. I suspect this bird was an immature RBTR, but I didn't get a good enough look so I'm logging it as tropicbird sp.


group, northbound.


fm or 1st year male, landed on boat, resting for 20 min, drank from fresh water i pooled on helm canvas, then departed, returning within a minute or two with another bird, the prairie warbler, which would circle the boat but not land. the AMRE landed a second and third time, calling "tsweet" loudly, the PRAW responding, but still not landing. eventually both birds departed northbound.


Are you submitting a complete checklist of the birds you were able to identify?