Focus On Taylor County Forum

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 Need Help IDing Please
Author: Erik Kemps (
Date:   06-19-02 19:34

On Tuesday, 6/18/2002, a few coworkers and I saw a small flock
of very large, pure white birds (except for black wing tips) fly right over us.
I am quite able to ID most waterfowl, and herons as I grew up near a large
swamp, but these birds were different. We spotted them flying over us
in Neenah, Wisconsin in the midmorning. There were about eight to ten birds.
They were huge as I stated, they flew in a pattern resembling a pyramid with
out the tip--birds in lines, two or three deep. They did not trail their legs, they
were tucked in. The wingtips (last third or quarter of wing) were jet black.
The rest of the birds' coloration was a creamy white. They had yellow bills
or beaks. The first thing I thought of was Hooping Cranes, but wouldn't that
be very, very rare? Could it have been something else?

 Re: Need Help IDing Please
Author: Greg (
Date:   06-20-02 08:05

Hi Erik, You are correct, seeing whooping cranes would be pretty rare. There is a small group of whooping cranes that they are trying to establish in the Necedah Wildlife refuge, but that would be quite a distance from where you saw them. You can read more about them at: But you said that they didn't have legs trailing behind, so that probably eliminates them.

Is there any chance that you might have been seeing Herring Gulls (or possibly Ring-billed Gulls)? They are quite large (I'd guess their wing span must be around 3 feet) and they would be white underneath with black wing tips and yellow bill. And with the lake near by, it's likely that there would be herring gulls in your area. The only other bird I can think of would be snow geese, but they shouldn't be here at this time of the year.

 Re: Need Help IDing Please
Author: Erik Kemps (
Date:   06-20-02 18:30

No, no chance of them being gulls. They were big. Thats why I didn't think
they were geese, because they were bigger than geese. And geese would
have black bills, correct? Their necks were held extended and were at least
the length of the body if not longer, I have observed many, many geese in the
wild--snow geese as well, and these birds were larger than any goose I
have ever seen, I could be convinced they were swans apart from the black
wingtips and yellow beaks, but not geese or even gulls. I am still baffled.
Is there a large, white w/ black wingtip, wading bird with a yellow beak that
flies with the legs folded in?

 Re: Need Help IDing Please
Author: Greg (206.29.211.---)
Date:   06-20-02 21:09

Snow geese would have a yellow bill, but I don't think that's what you saw. But I think I have it figured out. What I think they were is American White Pelicans. They would be very large white birds with yellow bills and black wing tips. I'm almost sure that that's what you saw and near the lake there would be the right habitat.

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