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Habitat is often a great way to identify birds. In this case, we should have little doubt that we are dealing with a waterbird, and the waves certainly suggest a seabird. The overall structure looks good for the family Procellariidae—medium-sized seabirds including petrels and shearwaters. Looking a bit more carefully we see that we actually have quite a good view of this bird's bill—a superb starting point for identifying seabirds from photos (in the field, you would typically start with flight style). Here we see that the bird has a relatively thick bill of moderate length that appears yellowish with a pinkish tip. That odd shape and pattern to the bill is only shown by one species in the ABA area—Northern Fulmar. I suppose one could make the argument that Cory's Shearwater or Pink-footed Shearwaters have similar bills, but those are much longer. Not only that, shearwaters have much longer wings than this bird. The short stocky wings and short thick neck are also enough to identify this bird as a Northern Fulmar.
This Northern Fulmar was photographed in Marin County, California in September 2007.
The following people (listed by submission date beginning with the earliest) submitted correct answers for the October Bird Photo Quiz—Northern Fulmar:
The following list shows the number of submissions for each species guessed.
The photo and answer for this quiz were supplied by Chris Wood.