New York State Rarities - Thick-billed Murre

On Saturday 3rd Feb 2001, Bob Kurtz discovered two Thick-billed Murres (Uria lomvia) at Montauk Point, Suffolk County, Long Island, New York. Over the past couple of decades, this species has become much rarer in the state and has been restored to the New York State Avian Records Committee (NYSARC) Review list. Late on Sunday morning (4 Feb 2001), Tony Lauro relocated one bird in Turtle Cove on the south side of the point and this confiding individual was enjoyed by many local birders during the rest of the day.

Figure 1. Here are some still images taken from digit video I took on Sunday. The video was taken through a Kowa TSN-4 scope at around 30x. The murre appears to be a first-year judging from the length of the bill. During the afternoon, it cycled between the southside of the lighthouse and the reefs directly east of the restaurant overlook - sometimes flying, sometimes swimming, between these favoured spots.

Figure 2. Note the white 'blaze' on the bill and pale throat. The rear flanks are clean white, lacking the brownish streaks diagnostic of all plaumages of Common Murre.

Figure 3. Head turned towards the camera, showing the neat black bar separating the dusky-white throat from the pure white breast.

Figure 4. Similar shot to Fig. 2, showing pale throat patch and whitish blaze on the cutting edge of the upper mandible. In good light, the eye showed a faint bridled pattern.

Figure 5. Slightly closer view of the head showing the shape of the bill to good effect.

More information about this species can be found in the Annotated List of Seabirds on Ocean Wanderers. Also Don Crockett has put together wonderful collection of Thick-billed Murre photos from MA and detailed discussion of the identification of murres in basic plumage.

Images and page layout copyright of Angus Wilson© 2000.
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