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Jaeger ID

Steve Howell, in a recent comment to The ABA Blog (click here, and scroll waaay down to the extreme bottom) posted:

“Basically, there are two kinds of birders—those who make mistakes and those who lie about it. I haven’t misidentified a bird since the last time I went birding, yesterday, and thankfully I was corrected by a birding friend, and I learned a bit more. Hence, with the benefit of others, be they friends, peers, or BRCs, we may be led to see our mistakes and learn from them, not sulk, and […]”

It’s safe to say that anybody with any amount of experience with jaegers has made some mistakes. Here, then, are some tricky jaeger photos that have appeared in recent issues of Birding magazine. Of some interest is that the challenge here is Long-tailed vs. Pomarine. More commonly, it seems, the most confusing pairings involve Parasitic Jaeger: Parasitic vs. Long-tailed and Parasitic vs. Pomarine. No matter, this time it’s Long-tailed vs. Pomarine.

Enough preamble. Here come the images, along with critical information regarding date and location. ID experts Tom Johnson and Steve Howell have already weighed in with their assessments. (Johnson: Birding, May 2012, p. 57. Howell, Birding, September 2012, p. 12.) Now what do you think?


12-3-13-F03 [Quiz Bird C]
Monterey Bay, California; 5 August. 2011. Photo by Tom Johnson.


12-5-05-01 [Pomarine Jaeger]
Off Hatteras, North Carolina; 31 May 2012. Photo by Steve N. G. Howell.

12-5-05-02 [Pomarine Jaeger]
Off Hatteras, North Carolina; 31 May 2008. Photo by Steve N. G. Howell.


12-5-05-03 [Long-tailed Jaeger]
Off Hatteras, North Caroliina; 11 August 2010. Photo by Steve N. G. Howell.



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Ted Floyd

Ted Floyd

Editor, Birding magazine at American Birding Association
Ted Floyd is the longtime Editor of Birding magazine, and he is broadly involved in other programs and initiatives with the ABA. Ted has written 200+ magazine articles and 5 books, including How to Know the Birds (National Geographic, 2019). He is a frequent speaker at birding festivals and has served on several nonprofit boards. Join Ted at The ABA Blog for his semimonthly spot, “How to Know the Birds,” celebrating common birds and the uncommonly interesting things they do.