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Jaeger Bombs

December 13, 2007

I’m cheating a bit. I haven really been able to tear into the jaegers yet. As I was wrapping up what I thought were the last of the gulls I found that the museum is in the possession of a surprisingly large collection of California and Mew Gulls, and even though I could have blown them off for the sexy skuas, I just wouldn’t be able to live with myself if there was a western gull down there alone and un-aged. Such tragedies should be avoided if at all possible. So in lieu of another boring white-headed larid post, I decided to snap some cool pictures of the jaegers to whet your collective appetites for when I do finally take a bite out of them. Plus some thoughts along the way, ya dig?

So here are my favorites, and the birds for which the museum has it’s nicest skins, the Long-tails. Here you can see from left to right, 1st year, 2nd year, and adult birds. Nothing much more to that. The adult in particular is a beautiful skin. When I began checking out the jaegers I was amazed at how small they are. For a bird with so much charisma you expect something much bigger but here are the jaegers, no larger than terns in many cases. The only jaegers I’ve ever seen where on a pelagic trip earlier this fall, so my experience is limited, but even then they seemed much larger as they harassed petrels to steal their food.

The next photos are just some size comparison between the three jaeger species typically classed together, though recent research suggests that the Pomarine Jaeger is genetically closer to the big skuas (called Bonxie Skuas) than its smaller visually similar relatives. You can kind of see why in these shots, the Pom is nearly twice as big as the Parasitic, even though it itself isn’

t much larger than a Ring-billed Gull.

Here’s a similar shot but in profile. Again, note how much more substantial the Pom is compared to the others. Now, you’d think that given this clear size and body type difference between the birds they’d be easier to ID in the field. Well, I guess that’s true if you get them side-by-side like this. Good luck with that. I’ll try to play around with some other field marks as I work through the skuas, they’re very cool birds and the museum has some great variation in the collections for age and color phase that will be worth sharing. Look forward to that maybe next week and into the new year. For now, I hope this’ll hold you guys over.


  1. slybird permalink
    December 13, 2007 8:28 am

    Does your museum do spread wings?

  2. December 13, 2007 11:06 am

    Yup, I have some pictures of jaeger spread wings, I’m just saving them…

  3. slybird permalink
    December 13, 2007 1:54 pm

    Sweet. I can’t wait. Jaegers are a long-time nemesis of mine. I was just logging footage of them from Alaska (major drooling). (I archive videos in Macaulay Library at CLO).

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