Whale smack-up

This “whale pwns bird” video has been making ripples in the Twitterverse:

(Via the Deep Sea News crew)


It makes me think, though, imagine if the birds had to file a report to their Avian Medical Insurance company. “We was flying along looking for somewhere to have a kip for the night, when all of a sudden, WHAM! I was walloped from below. Some great stinkin’ flipper came out an’ whacked me”.
During questioning the whale denied knowledge of any involvement, but did admit to being in the area. It denied breech of the peace (indeed it denied having done any kind of breeching in the last 3 months). It was finally released on bail.
Anyone guess the identity of the bird? We’ve narrowed it down a bit (hint: it’s not a chipping sparrow).

About rpg

Scientist, poet, gadfly
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23 Responses to Whale smack-up

  1. Richard P. Grant says:

    ha ha ha
    Go Mammals. Yeah.

  2. Alejandro Correa says:

    The shore birds are Phalacrocorax olivaceus

  3. Richard Wintle says:

    Hm. I’m not sure I agree with Alejandro’s Cormorant diagnosis (necks too short? Maybe?), but since I really can’t identify them I’ll say they’re Kittiwakes, since they look like they might be small-ish. As compared with the whale’s tail, the size of which I of course cannot accurately estimate.
    Second guess – Guillemots. Or maybe Razorbills.

  4. Alejandro Correa says:

    Observe the end of the film and you’ll realize that it is a cormorant, have a cormorant’s neck and is black. Also the flight is typical of cormorant.

  5. Kristi Vogel says:

    What, no one thinks it’s just a fluke?
    Given the flight pattern, I favor the alcid hypothesis, likely Pigeon or Black Guillemots. Difficult to discern markings from the video, but I don’t see enough white underside for a murre or a Razorbill. And they don’t seem to be stocky enough to be murrelets or Dovekies.
    The movement of the pwned bird seems to be just like that of a bird that gets hit by a car, i.e. flies straight up, very high. Except that birds that get hit by cars fall straight down dead, or mortally wounded (hopefully not into your open moonroof, if you are in the following car), and the bird in the video flies away. Amazingly.

  6. Cath Ennis says:

    It’s so hard to tell from that video. I’d say they’re too dark for kittiwakes, though.
    I’ve seen a dolphin (Freddie, Amble’s famous “ambassador dolphin” from the 90s) startle floating seagulls in what looked like a deliberate way. He’d repeatedly dive then resurface just underneath unsuspecting birds, which would freak out and fly away with much squawking and commotion. Hilarious! I wonder if the bird in the video suffered any long-term physical harm, or maybe a bad case of paranoia…
    “What, no one thinks it’s just a fluke?”
    LOL! Kristi strikes again…

  7. Alejandro Correa says:

    Sorry Kristy, neck is too long to be a Black Guillemots.
    Cormorants on the other hand are highly resistant to knocks I’ve seen them throwing stones and following its course.

  8. Alyssa Gilbert says:

    I have no idea what that bird is, but it reminded me of when Randy Johnson hit a bird with a baseball

  9. Bob O'Hara says:

    The Randy Johnson clip is classic.
    The resident expert here (no, not The Beast) thinks you’re all wrong, but she’s going to ask her readers what they think. Incidentally, the film was put up by the Vancouver Aquarium (Vancouver? Must have been a bird strike of Olympic proportions), who wrote

    You’re minding your own business, leading your flock, when out of nowhere – humpback tail! Either the humpback has a serious dislike for birds, or while flick feeding this total coincidence occurred. This video was shot in Juan Perez Sound, within the boundaries of Gwaii Haanas National Park and Haida Heritage Site.

    So it was up near Alaska. I don’t know if this helps with the ID.

  10. Alejandro Correa says:

    Can be a Phalacrocorax carbo carbo. But in any case is a cormorant.
    Phalacrocoracidae is a typical flight of level with water glide and plan in the air.

  11. Alejandro Correa says:

    And in flocks.

  12. Bob O'Hara says:

    I’m curious why you think it’s a cormorant – I can’t see a long neck, and the bodies look too stubby to me (i.e. short and fat).

  13. Cath Ennis says:

    I thought it looked local, but then any combination of water, mist, trees and whales looks local. Maybe a scoter, then, except that I’ve never seen them in such a small group before. However, I think the flocks of several thousand that hangs out in Vancouver harbour in autumn/winter might be on or preparing for their migration, so those numbers might not be typical. I once went on an epic winter day-paddle when the scoters were in, and although we were trying to be quiet and slow, we startled several hundred of them into flight at once as the first couple of kayaks approached. Very cool sight and sound!

  14. Alejandro Correa says:

    Is a split second where you have to be very careful at the end when the cormorant does recover the flight is the size of the bird and long neck.

  15. Alejandro Correa says:

    Is only a thousandth second in which you must pay attention. That is all!

  16. Bob O'Hara says:

    Damn, I wish someone could get a screen shot of that point! It’s too quick.

  17. Alejandro Correa says:

    Since now do you know humbly by the way.

  18. Richard Wintle says:

    Bob – that was my impression too – didn’t see long necks, stubby bodies, short wings flapping like crazy – that’s why I was thinking Guillemot or Razorbill.
    Honestly though, it’s just too far away to tell, unless there’s some hitherto-unseen HDMI version of that video – or somebody who was there who made a positive ID.
    P.S. Alejandro – lots of seabirds fly in flocks. ;)

  19. Alejandro Correa says:

    I repeat the cormorant recover the flight in the final of the film, and it is clear when the cormorant gives the turn to take their flight now recuperated and leave clearly in evidence that is an cormorant (split second).

  20. Alejandro Correa says:

    In the end of film, when the flight is recovered by the cormorant is known to the typical flight of cormorants with their body and long neck stretched skyward to take up altitude.

  21. Nicolas Fanget says:

    Maybe this is the first observation of whales diversifying their food sources in response to climate change/scientific fishing?

  22. Alejandro Correa says:

    Or maybe just mean that the whale (they have a big brain), point and clik an great wag of its tail(can not scream in the air), but not very educated: Hey! ¬°don’t me removed my foods!

  23. Adrian White says:

    If I was seawatching when I saw this I would put the birds down as a species of sea duck. A species of Scoter would seem to fit the bill.