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Birdwatchers on alert for razorbills

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Residents and birdwatchers have been asked to be on the lookout for sightings of a seabird that is rarely seen further south than North Carolina.

This winter sightings of razorbill seabirds have been reported much further south, including the Florida Keys and parts of the Gulf coast.

The reason the birds are showing up in places beyond their usual range may be because of a lack of food at their usual locations, and it could mean some of the birds visit Bermuda.

Andrew Dobson, of the Bermuda Audubon Society, is asking residents, particularly birdwatchers, to be on the alert for razorbills and to report any sightings.

“The razorbill is an alcid (seabird) of cold North Atlantic waters and rarely strays south of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, in the United States. The state of Florida previously had 14 records of this species, so last week when multiple razorbills started appearing in Florida — including flocks of more than 20 birds — it was clear that something very odd was going on,” he said.

“This invasion has continued to strengthen, with some razorbills turning up as far south as Miami and the Florida Keys, and some remarkable birds apparently rounding the tip of the peninsula and appearing along the Gulf coast.

“Some other species more typical of the Northeast and mid-Atlantic are also turning up, including black scoters (one was recorded in late November in Bermuda as well as a white-winged scoter), dovekie, and even thick-billed murre, and this invasion of the Southeast is helping to lend perspective to odd patterns in coastal southern New England.”

He added: “Although alcids are sometimes driven by storms to unusual places, large-scale invasions like this are more typically driven by food shortages in their normal range.”

Razorbills are primarily black with a white underside and wings that measure around eight inches. Anyone who sees an unusual bird, including birds that might be washed up on the beaches, is asked to e-mail info@audubon.bm

Useful website: http://ebird.org/content/ebird/news/razorbills-invade-florida

Razorbills rarely stray beyond North Carolina, but this year they have been seen as far south as Florida and the Gulf coast. Residents are being asked to keep a lookout for any that visit Bermuda.
(Photo by DL Jameson) Razorbills rarely stray beyond North Carolina, but this year they have been seen as far south as Florida and the Gulf coast. Residents are being asked to keep a lookout for any that visit Bermuda.

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Published December 27, 2012 at 8:00 am (Updated December 26, 2012 at 10:15 pm)

Birdwatchers on alert for razorbills

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