This morning, I drove Non Birding Bill into work (it was 6 degrees, I couldn't let him stand at a bus stop). After I dropped him off, we took a two mile walk among all the skyways around Minneapolis. I kept half an eye out for zooming peregrines in downtown, but didn't see any. On my way back home, I large dark bird burst from one of the neighborhoods and zipped in front of my car. Just as I thought to myself, "Wow, that's a shallow wing beat...is that a peregrine?" the bird descended upon a KMart parking lot inciting a cloud burst of pigeons into the air--so cool! It banked and you could see the clear silhouette of a peregrine--so weird to see that in front a KMart logo.
So, when I came back from my trip to Indiana, I was sifting bleary eyed through my email and regular commenter HellZiggy took some photos of birds of California and wondered if I could confirm the id. I glanced at them and saw that one of the photos was a gull. I felt like Indiana Jones when he was looking for the Arc and discovered it was in a pit surrounded by snakes. "Gulls, why did it have to be gulls." So, rather than me fumbling through and risking my poor gulling skills giving her incorrect info, I thought I would post the photos here--with my answers and those who live out west (or anywhere who can id these birds) can confirm or correct. Sound good? Here we go:
Ack! A shorebird, I'm still working on that, but I'll give it a go. Now, here is what is tough--there are no other shorebirds in the photo to compare it to as far as size and shape and it's not a video, so we can't use it's behavior to narrow the field. I'm guessing that this is either a western sandpiper or sanderling. So, if I'm going to pinned down, I'm going to guess sanderling because I'm not seeing a hind toe and sanderlings don't have a hind toe and westerns do. I tried doing a bill comparison, but honestly to my eyes, I just cannot see that much difference between a western's bill and a sanderling bill. I leave that to the shorebird experts out there.
So, what do you think these birds are?