Video: (thanks to Kentucky)
What a beauty...... I did a LOT of photo research last night, and wrote this in an email around noon:
Christmas Island Frigatebird: is critically endangered globally and
seemingly the least likely species to arrive in "North America" by
range (no records). Photo study (the oriental birding website has a
good collection) shows that many of these birds have more
cinnamon/rust colouration as a juvenile with differences in belly
pattern etc - and I'm pretty confident we can eliminate this species
with what we have.
Great Frigatebird: seems to show cinamon colouration on the head/body
in the early stages of life as well, which seems to be fairly
diagnostic(?ha...)... This species is on the ABA checklist and I can
find reports from Cali and Oklahoma --- photo study has made me feel
fairly confident that the body colouration on our bird is wrong for
this species, but it seems very tough. Some sites talk about white
auxillaries being present on Juveniles, but I've found some photos of
birds that don't seem to show this feature... Then again, how can you
trust photos you find online anyways?
Lesser Frigatebird: multiple records for inland N.A. ---- when Ken and
I saw the bird in flight, it was clearly a gargantuan monster of a
bird... Accounts I've read from the MI Lesser Frig is that they could
clearly tell the bird was not nearly as big as they would have
expected for a "Frig" and immediately started thinking it could be a
"lesser" on that alone... Juv Lesser's also seem to often have a bit
of a black collar around the neck in the photos I'm looking at, which
I did not see on our bird (although my mind is already going fuzzy
after looking at photos)...
Ascension Frigatebird - looks a bit too similar to our bird to have
much hope in eliminating. A record from the UK on Jul 10, 1953 means
that we probably shouldn't discount it on range either.... If someone
had a decent flight shot of the auxiliaries, it seems pretty clear cut
that ASFR has white, where MAFR does not.....
Magnificent Frigatebird - pretty darn easy to find photos of Juv's
that look just like our bird.... and in all honesty..........
And wouldn't you know it, not long after some superb (and I mean, superb) flight shots arrived from the finders of the bird* that showed pretty much everything else we needed to ID the beast...
Kentucky and I both happened to be well north of Guelph when word broke, and after several hours of driving, things couldn't have ended any better ---- as we arrived right when the beast was flying around and eventually drifted east over Rondeau Bay 25mins later.... (I think it was spooked by a Bald Eagle right before we arrived)
Chris and Sandra Leys
Stan and Anita Caveney
Bill and Marjorie Prieksiatis