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Re: Storm-petrel ID article

Thanks to Steve Schultz for posting the Louisiana article on Storm-petrel
ID. However, I feel compelled to point out that the bulk of the ID part is
wrong. The article makes a point of stressing how size differences and wing
shape differences are too close to be very useful and this couldn't be
farther from the truth. Without going into details (Storm-petrel season is
nearly over and by next spring my Field Guide will be out), Band-rumped and
Leach's are obviously long-winged and completely different from Wilson's. To
my eyes, the flight is also obviously very different: Band-rumped being
"jerky" (Nighthawk-like) but a direct flier (one direction) and Leach's
"jerkier" plus being an irratic flyer (changing course suddenly - which by
the way, is similar to the "irratic flight" of Bulwer's Petrel). Wilson's is
rather fluttery, fairly direct and usually much slower-flying. I will
however, concede that for those without a lot of experience, it is a MUCH
tougher call than after one has seen hundreds of them. I clearly remember
the "early days" when we used to say "You have to see 10 Band-rumpeds before
you can feel good about counting one." However, I also think those days are
gone. We now know exactly what to look for and I feel we can rather easily
relate an understanding of the differences to even a first-time observer.

On another note, for those who are interested, my trip to Madeira was not as
successful as I'd hoped. I only saw 3 Fea's Petrels (photographed 2 well)
and no Zino's. However, I did obtain enough information from Frank Zino and
others on the Petrel research team there to know that we are right in our
identifications here. In fact, Frank told me that he never doubted it. I
will also (assuming I get the promised photos from Frank) have the proof
necessary to make the case iron clad to even the most die-hard skepetics:
extended wing photos of both species from the breeding grounds (the wing
shapes differ by about 30%; Fea's being the longer). I was somewhat amused
at how easily the Maderian research team, after even briefly looking at the
photos, agreed that the differences were "very interesting" (exact quote)
and easily agreed that they were far too great (different) to be a artifact
of wing position, flight conditions, etc. - whereas the ABA Committee
apparently couldn't see those differences with months to study them.

Mike Tove
Cary, NC