aba events
Nikon Monarch 7

#ABArare – Northern Gannet – California

facebooktwitter

On April 25, Peter Warzybok spotted a Northern Gannet from Southeast Farallon Island, San Francisco County, California. The bird circled the island multiple times, where it was well-photographed by Sophie Webb.  This is a first state record for California, and a first record for the Pacific Ocean.

  NOGA CA 1st
Photo by Sophie Webb (PRBO), used with permission

Northern Gannet is one of the most abundant seabirds of the North Atlantic, nesting in massive communal colonies from Atlantic Canada across to Scandinavia, but until now it has never been reported in the Pacific Ocean.  How, exactly, the bird ended up in California is an open question, but finder Peter Warzybok of PRBO has a theory:

The likely answer is that it came across through the now open water of the Northwest Passage. Climate warming has resulted in a reduction in pack ice and and an increase in open water all the way across the top of the continent.  This bird probably followed that water and ended up in the wrong ocean. In fact, just last summer, there were two individual Northern Gannets reported in the Arctic Ocean north of Alaska.  That was a first for that region and a clear sign that a warming planet is opening up new avenues for seabird dispersal.

The Farallon Islands are off limits for recreational birders, though some whale-watching boats can get close.  Communal bird nesting colonies and marine mammal colonies on the islands are subject to long term studies by researchers affiliated with Point Reyes Bird Observatory

Thus, refinding the bird appears to be a long shot, but seawatchers in Marin County and surrounding areas may just get lucky. And if Warzybok is correct, this may not be the last Northern Gannet record for the west coast of the continent. 

The following two tabs change content below.
Nate Swick

Nate Swick

Nate Swick is the editor of the American Birding Association Blog. A long-time member of the bird blogosphere, Nate has been writing about birds and birding at The Drinking Bird since 2007, but can also be found writing regularly at 10,000 Birds. In the non-digital world, he's an environmental educator and interpretive naturalist. Nate lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, with his wife, Danielle, and two young children, who are not yet aware that they are being groomed to be birders.
Nate Swick

Latest posts by Nate Swick (see all)

  • http://profile.typepad.com/6p0162fbed8b53970d Ned Brinkley

    Don’t forget the recent record from Alaska – so this is the second Pacific record.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/naswick Nate Swick

    I was under the impression that the AK records were on the north shore. Not true?

  • http://profile.typepad.com/6p0162fbed8b53970d Ned Brinkley

    Yes, Chukchi Sea – so that is technically outside the Pacific, isn’t it!

  • http://profile.typepad.com/naswick Nate Swick

    A gray area for sure.

  • tjkrbrown

    Sighted at Redondo Beach in Southern California… is this a Gannet?

Birders know well that the healthiest, most dynamic choruses contain many different voices. The birding community encompasses a wide variety of interests, talents, and convictions. All are welcome.
If you like birding, we want to hear from you.
Read More »

Recent Comments

  • Falconstare, in Blog Birding #237... { Thanks for sharing the useful article. Find binoculars, monoculars and spotting scopes that let you get closer to nature. Visit us at www.falconstare.com }
  • Dick Latuchie, in Considering Killdeers and Collared Doves... { Hi Lynn, Really enjoyed this piece, which perfectly captures this basic building-block of birding. You might get a kick out of this. Half an hour... }
  • Matt F., in The How and Why of Urban Cooper's Hawks... { Unfortunately it's not just White-winged Doves they're going after. In recent years, Purple Martin landlords have been seeing alarming increases in the amount of successful... }
  • Nate Swick, in Rare Bird Alert: July 31, 2015... { My mistake. I see now that Machias is where it was *originally* sighted, not where it is seen now. Sent from my phone }
  • mtbattie, in Rare Bird Alert: July 31, 2015... { The Red-billed Tropicbird in Maine is actually not being seen on Machias Seal Island, an island way up on the border of Maine and Canada... }
  • Older »

Categories

Authors

Archives

via email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • What exactly is a field notebook? Part 5 of 5. July 30, 2015 5:14
    Recognizing that there are no such things as right and wrong, here are some thoughts for what you might include in your field journal (and field notebook!). But remember, it’s your field journal so you can do what you want. […]
  • What exactly is a field notebook? Part 4 of 5. July 29, 2015 3:51
    Fact: Careful observations and sketches help you really learn birds. […]
  • What exactly is a field notebook? Part 3 of 5. July 28, 2015 3:44
    It’s all very well showing some of my notes from recent years (Part 2), when I’m an experienced birder, but what did my notes look like when I was a teenager? It’s pretty clear, however, that I wouldn’t have come close to winning any Young Birder of the Year field notebook competition! […]

Follow ABA on Twitter