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South Florida Black Bird with a White Ring


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I wasn't birding at the time and couldn't get my phone out quickly enough.  Early this evening in Boynton Beach, Florida, while there was still enough light to see what was going on, four medium to large birds flew past me.  The bodies were pure black and each had a thick, white ring around the neck.  Any ideas?  I got a very good look and  would be able to confirm or reject any suggestions.

 

Ty 

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3 minutes ago, Jerry Friedman said:

Brant?

Don't think so but can't 100% rule it out.  None of the maps I'm looking at have it in my area ever.  The white band was more complete, thicker, and uniform, and I don't remember seeing anything other than black.  It was past official sundown, so the lighting wasn't ideal and I could have missed something though.

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13 minutes ago, dragon49 said:

Don't think so but can't 100% rule it out.  None of the maps I'm looking at have it in my area ever.  The white band was more complete, thicker, and uniform, and I don't remember seeing anything other than black.  It was past official sundown, so the lighting wasn't ideal and I could have missed something though.

Was the bird inland or along the coast?

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4 minutes ago, Colton V said:

Male Red-breasted Merganser? Did you notice any patterning in the wings?

I don't remember patterning.  Seem to remember more of a solid structure.  Pics of Red-breasted Mersangers in flight do look to have the same shape as the four birds I saw though.  Also, other than the rings, I only remember seeing black, no other colors.

 

5 minutes ago, Colton V said:

Also what was the habitat like? Any water nearby?

All over the place.  A residential lake behind the house across the street, a canal less than half a mile away, and tons of residential lakes in the surrounding communities.  

I'm going to sleep.  Thanks all for trying to help with the ID.  I'll check back in tomorrow morning.

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13 hours ago, dragon49 said:

Approximately 7.5 miles west of the ocean.

Brant are rare in Florida, but eBird does have a record from Boca Raton and several from near Port St. Lucie.

They do occur inland--there's a group of three here in New Mexico as I write--but the Florida records seem to be from the outer beaches.  If they were native birds, @Colton V's suggesting of Red-breasted Merganser seems a lot more likely than Brant.

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6 hours ago, Jerry Friedman said:

Brant are rare in Florida, but eBird does have a record from Boca Raton and several from near Port St. Lucie.

They do occur inland--there's a group of three here in New Mexico as I write--but the Florida records seem to be from the outer beaches.  If they were native birds, @Colton V's suggesting of Red-breasted Merganser seems a lot more likely than Brant.

The flying/gliding poses I see online of Red-breasted Mersangers very strongly resemble what I saw last night, so I'm heavily leaning toward that species.  My answers about the pure blackness and lack of patterning need to be tempered by the fact that there was very little light out.  I need the ID, but am erring on the side of caution.  I'm not taking credit for any new "lifers" without a positive photo ID.

 

2 hours ago, Avery said:

What was the shape of these birds? If the light wasn’t great, many colors can appear to be black. Were they shaped like waterfowl, or something else?

Please see the above.  Next time I go back there, I'm bringing the good camera!

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48 minutes ago, Charlie Spencer said:

Do a couple of test shots so you can get the settings right for the conditions!

Ty, 4 advice, but I'm usually there much earlier in the day.  I don't normally go birding after sunset.  I was just randomly walking around the block last night and they flew over much too fast for me to have a chance to get a pic with my iPhone.

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