On this page I show birds that are my most common drift line finds, and ones I can most easily photograph on the exposed coast of northern Oregon. For ID help I consult the Audubon Guides Bird App, the National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America, and my birder friends. ID mistakes are mine – please let me know if you find some.

Brant – I read that old timers around Yaquina Bay, Oregon used to call brant china goose, but I haven’t heard this myself. In Oregon, we think of them mostly wintering on the estuaries with eelgrass beds, but there are always a few birds summering singly or in small groups on the exposed outer coast. Bald eagles take advantage of summering brant which are vulnerable during the molt. I came across this lone bird in late June. I love that early morning shadow.

32508242385_35e372920a_b

***

Northern Fulmar – Fulmar carcasses are common in the winter drift line.

Dead northern fulmar with breast meat eaten

***

Fork-tailed storm petrel – When I found this carcass on a large drift log, I noticed the head was missing. I’ve been told owls favor the the heads, I wonder if this one was taken by an owl.

31510792544_5b14a62951_b

***

Peregrine falcon – Peregrines cruise the beaches year round. They take advantage of drift logs for perches.

32428858021_eb78efdf78_b

***

Surfbird – Surbirds winter on rocky intertidal shores. They appear in Surfbirds Live Up to Their Name on the Winter Range. Can you spot a black turnstone or two lurking in the back of this flock?  You will often find these two species together during the winter.

32314838166_b8940a628c_b

***

Red Phalarope – These fragile little birds take the fall storms hard. In Europe they’re called gray phalaropes which is an apt description of the winter birds we’re most likely to see in the drift line.

32209616531_65c90bc318_b

***

Black-legged Kittiwake – A pelagic gull. You might find a carcass in the winter drift line. Look for wing tips that seem to have been dipped in black ink; black legs.

32328968876_8d4d2f8d8f_b

***

Heermann’s Gull – I came across this trio in June.

32145363400_afe49126a0_b

***

Western Gull – Pink legs, dark mantle, and black wing tips; it’s probably a western gull.

Three adult western gulls on the beach

***

Olympic Gull Olympics are western gull x glaucous-winged gull hybrids. I think this is one, so I wrote a few words about Olympics in Waiting Out High Tide With an Olympic Gull. We see a lot of Olympics here. We’re in that transition zone where western gulls breed mostly south of us and glaucous-winged gulls breed north of here, so we get a lot of mixing.

Olympic Gull leaping off a fence post, over Pacific Ocean

***

Common Murre – Murre carcasses are common in the drift line.

32218066871_c99e1ea446_b

***

Pigeon Guillemot – Though they are common on their northern Oregon breeding grounds, I see few guillemots in the drift line.

31519869803_c51d228089_b

***

Cassin’s Auklet – Sometimes dead Cassin’s wash ashore in great numbers. Fall, 2014 was such a case. I can’t get over those blue legs.

32230291071_20eb1d4d9c_b

***

Marbled murrelet – Not too common in the drift line. This is a winter plumage adult from January.

Dead marbled murrelet on the beach

***

Rhinoceros Auklet – Fairly common in the drift line, this is a winter adult. The other thing you see here is the breast meat has been eaten. You’ll see that a lot. Gulls and ravens go for the breast meat first.

31517499213_8a4074eaa9_b

***

Tufted Puffin – I don’t see many puffins in the drift line. Puffins have deciduous bill sheaths that drop off during the winter which is why this one doesn’t have as big and brightly colored bill as in the typical photos you see of breeding birds.

31517500423_3c9b4263a6_b