41-B-2018 Parasitic Jaeger
HOW MANY OBSERVED?
2 dark adults
DATE SIGHTING OCCURRED
DATE REPORT PREPARED
Austin R. Young
As far as I know, I am the only one to observe two birds in the same place at the same time. Steve Kahl and Cheryl Huizinga had seen single dark morph Parasitic Jaegers in the vicinity on the same day or two days before. Steve noted he may have had two birds two days prior but could not confirm. Steve Butterworth and Darren Clark observed a single Parasitic Jaeger in the vicinity two days later.
LOCALITY OF OBSERVATION
American Falls Reservoir, Power County, between the dam and Willow Bay recreation area. Specifically at: 42.8021,-112.8621
HABITAT WHERE THE BIRD WAS OBSERVED
The pair of jaegers were observed on the reservoir over open water.
SIGHTING DURATION, CONDITIONS, and EQUIPMENT USED
I observed the birds well for 10-15 minutes. Both through 10x42 binoculars and a Leupold spotting scope. The weather was breezy, mostly cloudy, and cool temperatures. I first observed one bird about 150 meters away flying toward me, but most of the time the birds were several hundred meters away over the water.
DID YOU TAKE NOTES?
Yes, later the same day
DID YOU CONSULT A FIELD GUIDE OR OTHER REFERENCE WORK?
Yes, later the same day
WHICH GUIDE(S) OR REFERENCE(S): DID YOU CONSULT?
National Geographic Guide to Birds of North America (6th edition), Sibley Guide to Birds (2nd edition).
DESCRIPTION OF THE BIRD(s)
Clearly a member of the Stercorariidae family by their thin bills, long wings, gull-like shape, agility, and harassing behavior. Very similar in size to Ring-billed and California Gulls they were harassing. Both birds showed a conspicuous single white patch on underside of primaries and medium-length wedge-shaped tail.
BEHAVIOR OF THE BIRD(s)
Both were distinctly falcon-like in flight, as opposed to somewhat tern-like flight in LTJA and powerful and bulky flight as in POJA. Very twisty and agile flight when harassing gulls. Most of the time the birds harassed and rested on the water as a pair. Very similar in size to Ring-billed and California Gulls they were harassing.
HOW AND WHEN DID YOU POSITIVELY IDENTIFY THE BIRD, AND WHAT CLINCHED THE IDENTIFICATION FOR YOU?
The size of the birds and flight style were crucial. Also tail shape and pattern aided in identification. The fact that both birds were dark morphs also helped in the ID because ~80% of PAJA are dark morph and dark morphs of the other two species are not nearly as common (Sibley, 2nd edition).
HOW DID YOU ELIMINATE SIMILAR SPECIES? WHAT WERE THEY?
The distinct falcon-like flight pattern and size relative to the gulls ruled out larger and bulkier Pomarine and smaller, tern-like Long-tailed Jaegers. Additionally, lack of double white flash ruled out Pomarine Jaeger.
WHAT IS YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH THIS (AND SIMILAR) SPECIES?
Field experience very limited. However, I have observed countless illustrations and read countless descriptions and watched many a video on jaegers.
DESCRIBE YOUR GENERAL BIRDING EXPERIENCE
Extensive and advanced. I have been seriously birding for about 8 years but I have been a birder for longer than that. Most of my time has been in the intermountain west, I am very familiar with the local species.
WERE PHOTO(S), VIDEO, AND/OR AUDIO OBTAINED FROM THIS SIGHTING?