Sunday, July 22, 2012

Jaeger Shots!

Just this past week, an out-of-town birder who visited the Savannah area reported seeing an odd bird on the shore of North Beach of Tybee Island that he didn't figure out what it was until after he had returned home. And lo and behold, he had found a most unusual bird indeed - a Pomarine Jaeger!

Pomarine Jaeger with his foot sticking out

Pomarine Jaeger on Tybee Island

This bird isn't odd to find in this part of the country. However, it is extremely odd to find it on shore! These hefty birds are almost always found offshore, flying powerfully out over the ocean waters. What probably brought this bird inland was a problem with its left eye which was clearly injured and/ or infected somehow.
A close-up view of the injured/infected left eye

Left eye can't open

Another look at his left eye

Knowing that we'd probably never see a Pomarine Jaeger, or any jaeger for that matter, this up-close, we went over to re-locate it on Tybee in the early evening after I got off of work as we knew that most beach-goers would be gone for the day on this summer weekend. We trekked through the sand as we have many times before, and just at the bend of the shore where we have found many shorebirds, gulls and terns, there lay the lone jaeger, so sweet and peaceful.

Pomarine Jaeger preening

A look at the twisted tail

Pomarine Jaeger

We watched him as we inched up ever so slowly and cautiously towards him. "Regular" beach-goers (those not outfitted with binoculars, a camera, and a scope) walked right past him and he didn't flinch, so we decided to move in closer and get some better looks and shots of him. He seemed as calm as a cucumber and didn't seem to mind our presence. We figured he must have gotten used to it with all of the beach visitors that come and go. And he probably figured no one was really interested in him, except for these odd creatures approaching him with large black lenses.

As we gazed upon him, we relished admiringly over its mighty bill and beautiful face and physique. As we came around the side of him, we saw that very distinctive long and twisted central tail feather, clinching its identity along with its dark malar and lack of pale crescent at the base of its bill as in the Parasitic Jaeger. On his other side, his beauty was slightly blemished only by his wonky left eye which you could see was not able to open entirely. The poor thing had to turn the right side of his face upward in order to see what was going on above him.

Pomarine Jaeger had an itch, so he turned over on his side to scratch it!

Jaeger looking up with his good right eye

We had heard from other local birders that had previously re-located the bird that it could fly. And after about an hour at the beach, Nick witnessed the jaeger take a short burst of flight to move about 100 feet from where we originally spotted it. So although the bird is able to fly, his eye is keeping him grounded. We know that one other birder has contacted a rehabber to try to pick up the bird, but they did not have success in re-locating him. We, too, are trying to reach out to see if anyone can try to come back and get him. We've been told that rehabbing ocean birds can be very difficult, so the fate of this awesome bird is unknown at this time. But we have hope for him yet.

Farewell and good luck to you, Mr. Jaeger


  1. Sweet!

    Pomarine Jaeger is an awesome name for a bird. You guys have had some very interesting and unusual birds turn up on your beaches this year.

    Great documentation of the species, hope he heals up and 'gets a new look on life'

    1. Yes, we have had quite a year so far with odd sightings on this beach. And the year is only half over! Maybe we'll get a flamingo next!

  2. Hold that Jaeger. I need it as a lifer. I will be on the coast this weekend and will detour for this bird. Keep it alive. I'm having flashbacks of the Ivory Gull. It died the day before I was to see it. Great shots and post btw.

    1. We'll see if he holds up until then! I feel bad for the guy. I hope he's getting enough food out here. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Beautiful shots of the rare bird. It's always great to find a nice surprise now and then. Hopefully, he makes it.

    1. Thanks, Dina! It was a treat to see him so closely. And luckily someone has picked him up and he's on his way to rehab. I hope to hear about a speedy recovery!

  4. So great that you guys went back to check. My husband and I are trained as rehabbers, and we know a lot of people would not take the time seek out the animal and see about helping. This post warms my heart ... just knowing you did so. Obviously, it's tough to capture them when they can still fly. Often, it's a case where they can fly well enough to evade capture, but aren't well enough to be fully viable in their environment. What a stroke of good fortune he was taken in. I wish for a positive outcome here. And thank you.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Ingrid! I'm not sure how to feel about the current situation of the Jaeger. Last I heard, he was picked up and was rehabbed in that he gained weight, but his left eye still isn't well. They released him on a beach, but not sure if he will get to live out his days in proper Jaeger style. But I'm still wishing him luck.