Posted by on Jan 24, 2013 in My Blog, NC Outer Banks | 0 comments

Seabird Far from Home

Walking along the beach in Kill Devil Hills, NC, and enjoying the myriad of shells, skate egg cases, and seabirds, I came upon one that had met its demise so I got closer to see what I might learn.  The bird, lying on it’s side in the sand obviously died with its eyes wide open…and, though, dead, it was beautiful.  I noticed quickly the point of a fish hook coming out the top of its head so somehow a fisherman’s hook had traveled through its mouth and pierced his skull and brain along with it.  This took me back to the days of “pithing a frog’s brain” in biology class.

In studying the bird, I was somewhat perplexed in identifying it.  I realized I had not seen this bird before.  It was large, white with black edged wings,  short black legs with a thin green line down the front of the legs and black webbed feet.   The unusual thing was the pretty blue ring around its eye and the colorful light blue bill.  The bird is a Northern Gannet which breed up along the New England and Canadian coasts and migrate along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts for winter.  The pretty blue bill is a sturdy one for they feed by diving straight into the ocean achieving speeds of 60 miles per hour.  The bill can grab a fish under water and swallow it before the gannet resurfaces.

I do hope my next sighting of a Northern Gannet ( a cousin to the Blue-footed  Booby) is one I can view in flight and very much alive, but for this sighting, I at least added another bird to my life list.

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