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seen Portland Maine today may 9th
 

unsure on this bird have any ideas on other options
 

Medium sized bird slightly smaller than a herring gull, body and wings were solid gray-brown with darker almost black color on top of wings, very clear white crescent on outer wing. Flying low over the water near group of nesting cormorants, did not see any harassment of cormorants but was not seen for a very long amount of time. Distinguished from juvenile herring gull by obvious white on end of wings and a less pointed wing shape, also was smaller than a herring gull.  Distinguished from a Pomeranian Jager by shorter tail and wider wings. Was to big for a laughing gull and to small for a greater black-backed gull. I decided towards a south polar skua over a great skua because of the time of year and the darker coloration overall with no buff coloring anywhere I could see.

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From the description alone, which is all I have to go on, I guess it could be. It would be an extremely exceptional sighting- Skuas are open ocean birds, and to see one outside of a pelagic trip would be very rare.

I'm not trying to be rude or a pessimist, but when birding it's easy to see what you want to see. It's something I, and many other birders, have experienced firsthand over the years. It can be very exciting to think that you may have just gotten a glimpse at a rare bird, but it's important to stay objective. You said that you only saw the bird very briefly and yet there's a list of specific field marks that seemingly eliminates every other possible species. Actual differences in size, shape, and structure of birds in many cases can be subtle and difficult to judge, and only observers familiar with both species can make accurate snap judgements that quickly. It seems hard to believe that in the very brief time that you saw the bird, you happened to remember all of the ways in which this species, which I assume you aren't extremely familiar with, differs from all other similar species. It's very easy to get back to a field guide, and project what you want to see over what actually happened. Human memory is not a photograph (unless you have photographic memory I guess) and is therefore just not that great for identifying birds after the fact. Unfortunately, part of birding is letting certain birds go unidentified, even if you think it might be rare (honestly, especially if you think it might be rare). And as much as that sucks, this might be one of those birds.

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Posted (edited)
13 hours ago, Benjamin said:

Unfortunately, part of birding is letting certain birds go unidentified, even if you think it might be rare (honestly, especially if you think it might be rare).

This, super-sized, and with extra cheese.  We try hard to ID everything here, since that's the reason why the site exists.  Sometimes we have to accept some of them can't be named.

Edited by Charlie Spencer

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