No Tropicbird

Peregrine Falcon

In the spring of 2005, a Red-billed Tropicbird, a stunning white bird with a bright red bill and a long streaming tail was seen in the cold waters off the Maine coast.  Thousands of miles off-course . . . this bird normally prowls the seas off the Lesser Antilles. It was seen off and on that summer, a male bird looking for a mate.

Red-billed Tropicbird

Incredibly it appeared again the following spring, settling on the rocky, remote island of Matinicus Rock.  The next two summers it returned to its Matinicus home . . . before moving Seal Island in 2008.  “Troppi” has returned to Seal Island, 20 miles off the Maine coast each summer since then . . . thrilling birders who manage to get their binoculars on him.

Doing a Maine Big Year, I had to “get Troppi”, so I organized a group of birders and we hired a lobsterman to take us from Vinalhaven Island (accessible by Maine State Ferry from Rockland) to Seal Island (another 10 miles out).

Our birding team

Combining the Ferry and the Lobsterboat . . . it took us two and a half hours to get to home of “Troppi”, which is also the home of thousands of nesting terns (Common and Arctic) and dozens of Atlantic Puffins and Razorbills . . . and unfortunately one mean looking Peregrine Falcon.

Common and Arctic Terns
Atlantic Puffin

The Peregrine, a ferocious hunter and the fastest animal on the planet, was sitting within a few feet of the Tropicbird’s den (a slit underneath a boulder).

So we never saw “Troppi” but had a wonderful time getting up close and personal with Puffins and Razorbills.  I’m not sure the Peregrine was the reason the Tropicbird never showed up for us . . . but I’m sure he didn’t help.

I have another trip planned out to Seal Island planned in July and am working on some other ideas.

I need to get “Troppi”!!!

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