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Re: [MOB-Montana] Eureka Reservoir--Whimbrels

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  • Jeff Marks
    Mike and mobsters, I ll go out on a limb and say I m skeptical of a flock of 60 Whimbrels at Eureka Reservoir. Saw two photos that showed 15 birds, only one of
    Message 1 of 6 , Aug 16, 2013
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      Mike and mobsters,
       
      I'll go out on a limb and say I'm skeptical of a flock of 60 Whimbrels at Eureka Reservoir. Saw two photos that showed 15 birds, only one of which looked like it could be a Whimbrel, but even it had head stripes within the range of those on some Long-billed Curlews, and most of the head was obscured. Maybe more photos can be obtained tomorrow?
       
      Jeff
       
      *******************
      Jeff Marks
      4241 SE Liebe Street
      Portland, OR 97206
      503-774-4783
      Birds of Montana Project
      http://mtaudubon.org/
      *******************
      ----- Original Message -----
      To: MOB
      Sent: Friday, August 16, 2013 4:21 PM
      Subject: [MOB-Montana] Eureka Reservoir--Whimbrels

       

      MOB,
      Responding to a phone call I went to Eureka Reservoir. There was a
      large number of Whimbrels. Both John Nordrum and I got a count right at 60!
      The reservoir is nearly dry.
      Mike Schwitters
      Choteaau MT

    • Michael Schwitters
      MOB, The flock of Whimbrels at Eureka Reservoir has been studied in some detail over the weekend via camera and by e-mail by several of our MOBsters. The
      Message 2 of 6 , Aug 19, 2013
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        MOB,
        The flock of Whimbrels at Eureka Reservoir has been studied in some
        detail over the weekend via camera and by e-mail by several of our
        MOBsters. The consensus now is that the birds on Eureka are Long-billed
        Curlews. The misleading feature for me was the stripe pattern on all
        the heads that is not illustrated on curlews in the National Geographic
        or Sibley bird guides.
        Mike Schwitters
        Choteau MT


        On 8/16/2013 5:21 PM, Michael Schwitters wrote:
        > MOB,
        > Responding to a phone call I went to Eureka Reservoir. There was a
        > large number of Whimbrels. Both John Nordrum and I got a count right
        > at 60!
        > The reservoir is nearly dry.
        > Mike Schwitters
        > Choteaau MT
      • Jeff Marks
        Mobsters, Mike has a good point that field guides have done a very poor job showing that some Long-billed Curlews, especially in late summer, can have a
        Message 3 of 6 , Aug 19, 2013
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          Mobsters,
           
          Mike has a good point that field guides have done a very poor job showing that some Long-billed Curlews, especially in late summer, can have a light-colored stripe down the center of their crown.
           
          Armed with the knowledge that not all curlews in Montana with a head stripe are Whimbrels, there is no reason to confuse the two species. Whimbrels come in a 'plain brown wrapper,' as shorebird expert Dennis Paulson says, whereas Long-billed Curlews have cinnamon or light reddish tones throughout most of their plumage. This plumage feature is evident in all of the birds in Mike's photos and thus immediately rules out Whimbrel. In addition to having bold head stripes, Whimbrels have a dark eye line (in front and back of eye), which Long-billed Curlews do not have. Last, Long-billed Curlews are a lot larger, and their bills are a lot longer, although the short bills of juvenile curlews in summer could cause one to think Whimbrel, if other obvious field marks go unnoticed.
           
          I will repeat that Whimbrels occur in Montana almost exclusively during northward migration, mostly in May. A fair number of reports exist for Montana from Jul to early Sep, but the 4 or 5 reports I saw that were accompanied by photos all turned out to be Long-billed Curlews. Indeed, I will go so far as to say that I am not aware of a single well-documented record (meaning a specimen or good photo) of a Whimbrel in Montana during the period of southward migration, from Jul to early Sep. If you have such documentation I would love to see it. I'd go further and suggest that in the absence of such documentation, I remain highly skeptical of reports of Whimbrels in Montana in late summer, including several sightings by members of the Montana Bird Records Committee, US Fish & Wildlife Service refuge biologists, and otherwise fairly well-known and decent birders. I think most or all of these people mistook a juvenile Long-billed Curlew for a Whimbrel. 
           
          If you think you have a Whimbrel in Montana in summer or fall, please take an extended look at the bird, and get a photo if at all possible. I am not saying Whimbrels have not occurred or cannot occur in Montana at this time.  Rather, I am saying that all such reports should be viewed with skepticism, and future reports in summer or fall should be documented as carefully as possible. As an aside, I recall reading a press release about an adult Whimbrel fitted with a satellite transmitter that migrated south from its Arctic nesting grounds to coastal Washington in early Aug, then turned east and migrated across the Rocky Mountains, crossing Montana airspace. I don't know whether the bird actually touched down in Montana.
           
          Thanks to those readers who persevered to read this entire post.
           
          Jeff
           
          *******************
          Jeff Marks
          4241 SE Liebe Street
          Portland, OR 97206
          503-774-4783
          Birds of Montana Project
          http://mtaudubon.org/
          *******************
          ----- Original Message -----
          To: MOB
          Sent: Monday, August 19, 2013 7:07 AM
          Subject: [MOB-Montana] Re: Eureka Reservoir--Whimbrels--NOT

           

          MOB,
          The flock of Whimbrels at Eureka Reservoir has been studied in some
          detail over the weekend via camera and by e-mail by several of our
          MOBsters. The consensus now is that the birds on Eureka are Long-billed
          Curlews. The misleading feature for me was the stripe pattern on all
          the heads that is not illustrated on curlews in the National Geographic
          or Sibley bird guides.
          Mike Schwitters
          Choteau MT

          On 8/16/2013 5:21 PM, Michael Schwitters wrote:
          > MOB,
          > Responding to a phone call I went to Eureka Reservoir. There was a
          > large number of Whimbrels. Both John Nordrum and I got a count right
          > at 60!
          > The reservoir is nearly dry.
          > Mike Schwitters
          > Choteaau MT

        • Donna Harkness
          Jeff:   I found your post very interesting and very helpful and am printing it off to keep in my field guide for future reference.  Thank you for being so
          Message 4 of 6 , Aug 20, 2013
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            Jeff:
             
            I found your post very interesting and very helpful and am printing it off to keep in my field guide for future reference.  Thank you for being so thorough and putting it in terms that us beginners can relate to.
             
            Donna, Big Timber
          • Jeff Marks
            Mobsters, Garrett MacDonald just sent me a link to some photos of a Whimbrel (looks like an adult female) taken by Terry Gray in Idaho on 3 August 2012. If in
            Message 5 of 6 , Aug 20, 2013
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              Mobsters,
               
              Garrett MacDonald just sent me a link to some photos of a Whimbrel (looks like an adult female) taken by Terry Gray in Idaho on 3 August 2012. If in Idaho, why not Montana?
               
              You can scroll down and click on series to right to obtain multiple photos:
               
               
              Jeff
               
              *******************
              Jeff Marks
              4241 SE Liebe Street
              Portland, OR 97206
              503-774-4783
              Birds of Montana Project
              http://mtaudubon.org/
              *******************
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