[CT Birds] Some Thoughts on Razorbills

Anthony Zemba Anthony.Zemba at gza.com
Wed Dec 14 11:10:02 EST 2011

Dennis et al:
An interesting topic for sure. Perhaps a combination of both?  It seems they were regularly sighted in eastern LIS after the great Alcid invasion of the winter of (2000-2001 was it?) when Razorbills and Thick-billed Murres were seemingly everywhere in Coastal Rhode Island and into Eastern Long Island Sound. I always wondered what caused that great incursion and thought perhaps it was in response to a prey shift or prey range shift, esp. since many of the small "baitfish" undergo seemingly dramatic population fluxes. Perhaps that was the case in the winter of 2000-2001 and since that time Razorbills have "discovered" the LIS as providing suitable wintering habitat? Again, pure speculation on my part.  Would anybody else care to weigh in on this topic?

Anthony Zemba CHMM
Certified Ecologist / Soil Scientist
GZA GeoEnvironmental, Inc.

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-----Original Message-----
From: ctbirds-bounces at lists.ctbirding.org [mailto:ctbirds-bounces at lists.ctbirding.org] On Behalf Of Dennis Varza
Sent: Tuesday, December 13, 2011 7:27 PM
To: Posting Bird List
Subject: [CT Birds] Some Thoughts on Razorbills

Hi Folks

The occurrence of Razorbills the past two winter has gotten me thinking. Although their presence may be good for our lists, it may be the result of some environmental ill (bad weather, loss of expected food supply etc. Or, it could be a consequence of success and they are extending their range.

I think it may be the latter. Razorbills have occurred regularly in the past. Their numbers have been increasing, just as other fish- eating species have increased in Long Island Sound. The Razorbill may
just be the next species to make Long Island Sound a regular
destination. Another thing to consider is that seabirds are long lived, so that once they get into the habit of wintering at a location they will likely return and lead their offspring here. This is all speculation, time will tell.

Linsley (1843) recorded it for Stratford,

Merriam 1877 considered it rare in Long Island Sound.

The species was subjected to egg collecting until the migratory bird treaty in 1919 where it has since recovered.

Over the past 30 years fish eating birds have greatly increased in Long Island Sound.
Ospreys, Double-crested Cormorants, Herons, Gannets.

Below are the records I have for this species.
What is interesting is that the 1948 record is considered the third.
But, I have yet to find one and two.

1948 Jan 3      New London      Oiled Bird, 3rd record  Logan   RNEB 4:7
1960 Dec -      New London      CBC Count Period                AFN V15P114
1966 Jan 2      Groton          Bates, K.       RNEB 22: Jan:09
1978 Apr 8      East Lyme               Alden, P.       Ct. Birds
1991 Jan 10     New London, Pequot Beach.       Many Obs.       RSCB V6:1:2, CWSR 11:3
2001 Feb 2      New London              Fritz Davis     CWSR 21:3

Dennis Varza
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