Annotated checklist and data resource
text © Don Roberson
photos copyrighted by photographer(s) credited
all photos taken in Monterey County, California
MTY = Monterey County
Part 2: Albatrosses through Frigatebirds
MTY status & distribution
if photo, usually a thumbnail;
if specimen or details,
so indicated
Credits or comments
Laysan Albatross
Phoebastria immutabilis
Regular winter visitor well offshore but recent records span all seasons
photo © Don Roberson
26 Jan 1980 Monterey Bay
Black-footed Albatross
Phoebastria nigripes
Fairly common pelagic visitor offshore from winter into mid-summer; numbers peak May-July; scarcest in fall
photo © Don Roberson
16 May 1999 Monterey Bay
Short-tailed Albatross
Phoebastria albatrus
Very rare visitor offshore; records span the seasons. A century ago this was a common visitor to Monterey Bay but the species almost went extinct around World War II. Numbers slowly increasing and it may become more regular here again
photo © Robert L. Pitman
2 Dec 1983 
~60 nmi SW of Cape San Martin
Northern Fulmar
Fulmarus glacialis
Common winter visitor offshore but numbers vary widely year-to-year. In some years birds arrive early in fall and linger well into the following summer
photo © Don Roberson
10 Feb 1996 Monterey Bay
Great-winged Petrel
Pterodroma macroptera
Exceptional vagrant; one record (Oct 1998)
photo © John Sorensen
18 Oct 1998 Monterey Bay
Murphy's Petrel
Pterodroma ultima
Likely a regular spring visitor far offshore (over 50 nmi off) but rarely observed. At least 86 were seen in MTY waters on one research cruise in Apr 1991 but no observers have been far offshore in spring since then
photo © Don Roberson
11 Apr 1991
~60 nmi W of Pt. Sur
Mottled Petrel
Pterodroma inexpectata
Likely a rare visitor far offshore but few observations; two inshore records: one specimen (Nov 1996) & one sight record during gale (Dec 1984)
no photo for MTY
specimen at PGMNH,
from 24 Nov 1996 Sand City,
and also a field
Hawaiian Petrel
Pterodroma sandwichensis
Rare vagrant offshore; two records in late spring (May-June). Dark-rumped Petrel P. phaeopygia was recently split into two species: Galapagos & Hawaiian. All evidence to date suggests MTY birds are Hawaiian Petrels; see this i.d. page for more details
photo © Nancy Black
4 May 2003 Monterey Bay
Cook's Petrel
Pterodroma cookii
Scarce but likely regular visitor in summer far offshore; records to date are from Apr, May, Aug, and Nov and it may be present throughout that date span
photo © Don Roberson
17 Nov 1979 
~60 nmi SW of Pt. Sur
Stejneger's Petrel
Pterodroma longirostris
Very rare visitor far offshore. Only one record to date (Nov 1979) but might be regular far offshore (over 50 nmi off) in fall
no MTY photo
published descriptions &
sketch in McCaskie &
Roberson (1992)
W. Birds 23:145-152
Bulwer's Petrel
Bulweria bulwerii
Very rare visitor offshore; one record (July 1998) was associated with warm waters due to an exceptional El Niño
photo © Tristan McKee
26 July 1998 Monterey Bay
Streaked Shearwater
Calonectris leucomelas
Very rare fall visitor in shearwater flocks on Monterey Bay; 8 records to date (Aug-Oct)
photo © Don Roberson
9 Oct 1977 Monterey Bay
Cory's Shearwater
Calonectris diomedea
Very rare fall visitor on Monterey Bay; one record (Aug 2003)
no MTY photos
several descriptions, incl. this one for 23 Aug 2003 Monterey Bay
by S.F. Bailey
Pink-footed Shearwater
Puffinus creatopus
Common fall visitor offshore with smaller numbers sometimes present at other seasons throughout the year
photo © Don Roberson
11 Oct 1998 Monterey Bay
Flesh-footed Shearwater
Puffinus carneipes
Scarce visitor offshore, primarily in fall, but records for every month of the year
photo © Don Roberson
10 Feb 1996 Monterey Bay
Greater Shearwater
Puffinus gravis
Very rare fall & winter vagrant; there are 2 fall and 2 winter records through 2003. Like Cory's Shearwater, this is an Atlantic species but a few vagrants are sometimes "trapped" in the Pacific after visiting Cape Horn in winter
photo © Ronald L. Branson
2 Oct 1994 Monterey Bay
Wedge-tailed Shearwater
Puffinus pacificus
Very rare summer & fall vagrant, associated with unusual warm waters. Three records through 2003; 2 light morph (Aug 1986, Sep 1999) and one dark morph (Oct 1998)
photo © Don Roberson
11 Oct 1998 Monterey Bay (dark morph)
Buller's Shearwater
Puffinus bulleri
Rather common fall visitor offshore (Aug-Oct); very rare in winter or early summer. Numbers variable; some years many, some years few
photo © Don Roberson
9 Oct 1977 Monterey Bay
Sooty Shearwater
Puffinus griseus
Common visitor offshore, can be abundant in dense flocks in spring & summer (May-July). Remains common in fall but becomes scarce in winter
photo © Don Roberson
22 Sep 1982 Monterey Bay
Short-tailed Shearwater
Puffinus tenuirostris
Uncommon winter visitor offshore; can be fairly common some winters or be scarce in others; very rare in spring or summer
photo © W. Ed Harper
Feb 1984 Monterey Bay
Manx Shearwater
Puffinus puffinus
Rare spring & fall migrant offshore, usually in flocks of other shearwater; a few recorded in winter. This Atlantic species apparently has recently colonized the north Pacific but its nesting grounds have yet to be discovered
photo © Rod Norden
29 Aug 1993 Monterey Bay
Black-vented Shearwater
Puffinus opisthomelas
Often a common fall & winter visitor to near-shore pelagic waters but can be almost absent some years; very rare in spring or summer
photo © Don Roberson
 9 Feb 2003 Monterey Bay
Little Shearwater
Puffinus assimilis
Exceptional vagrant offshore; one record (Oct 2003)
photo © Debi Shearwater
29 Oct 2003 Monterey Bay
see the 
Shearwater Journeys
website for more details
Wilson's Storm-Petrel
Oceanites oceanicus
Rare fall visitor to Monterey Bay, usually in flocks of other storm-petrels; exceptional in spring
photo © Don Roberson
3 Oct 1982 Monterey Bay
Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel
Oceanodroma furcata
Unpredictable visitor, usually far offshore; records span the seasons. An occasional strong storm will blow birds into Monterey Bay and nearshore. Recent inshore incursions were in Apr 1995, Oct 1997, May 1999
photo © Don Roberson
25 Aug 1983 Monterey harbor
Leach's Storm-Petrel
Oceanodroma leucorhoa
Common summer visitor far offshore, usually well beyond the range of single-day boat trips. Only occasionally inshore, most often in fall; very rare in early winter
photo © Don Roberson
9 Apr 1991
~50 nmi W of Pt. Sur
Ashy Storm-Petrel
Oceanodroma homochroa
Breeds very locally at Castle Rock, Big Sur coast. Otherwise, a common fall visitor to Monterey Bay where it often forms dense roosting rafts over the north rim of the Monterey canyon. Scarce at other seasons offshore but records from every month
photo © Don Roberson
3 Oct 1982 Monterey Bay
Wedge-rumped Storm-Petrel
Oceanodroma tethys
Very rare fall & winter visitor offshore; three records: an on-shore specimen (Jan 1969) and two in storm-petrel flocks on Monterey Bay (Sep-Oct 1977, Oct 1984)
no MTY photo
numerous detailed
descriptions, incl.
this one for
1 Oct 1977 Monterey Bay
by D. Roberson
Black Storm-Petrel
Oceanodroma melania
Usually common fall visitor to Monterey Bay, often rafting with flocks of Ashy Storm-Petrel, but in some years numbers can be small. When present, numbers peak in early fall (Aug-Oct); rare earlier or into late fall
photo © Don Roberson
9 Oct 1982 Monterey Bay
Least Storm-Petrel
Oceanodroma microsoma
Irregular fall visitor to Monterey Bay, usually in rafts of other storm-petrels. Can be fairly common in some very warm water years, but may be entirely absent in other autumns
photo © Don Roberson
9 Oct 1982 Monterey Bay
Red-billed Tropicbird
Phaethon aethereus
Rare summer visitor far offshore
photo © Richard Ternullo
25 July 1993 Monterey Bay,
west of Pt. Lobos
Red-tailed Tropicbird
Phaethon rubricauda
Very rare late summer or fall visitor far offshore; 3 records through 2003
photo ©
Michael Danzenbaker
9 Oct 1977 Monterey Bay
Masked Booby
Sula dactylatra
Very rare vagrant in summer; presence linked to warm water incursions. Two records of adults (June 1992, Aug 1997)
photo © Don Roberson
18 June 1992 Salinas R. mouth
Nazca Booby
Sula granti
Very rare vagrant in winter or spring; two records, both of juvenal birds (Apr 1990, Feb 1999; see a discussion on the tentative i.d. of the latter bird).  Nazca Booby was only recently split from Masked Booby and i.d. criteria in juvenal plumage is fragmentary but molt patterns help establish i.d.
photo © David Lemon
5 Apr 1990 ~2 nmi off Pt. Lobos
Blue-footed Booby
Sula nebouxii
Very rare vagrant; one record (Oct 1971) during a major incursion of this booby to coastal California
description only
no MTY photo
several brief field descriptions
Brown Boob
Sula leucogaster
Rare summer or fall vagrant offshore; four confirmed records through 2003 (June-Oct) included one roosting just offshore at Castle Rocks (July 1999)
photo © Jerry Wettle
23 Sep 1999 ~ 35 nmi
WSW of Pt. Pinos
[caught on fishing
hook & released]
Red-footed Boob
Sula sula
Very rare fall vagrant offshore; two records in fall 1987 coincided with a major incursion of this booby to California coastal waters, and included an on-shore bird
photo © Don Roberson
3 Dec 1987 Pt. Pinos
American White Pelican
Pelecanus erythrorhynchos
Uncommon but often very conspicuous non-breeding visitor, now occurring year-round at Elkhorn Slough and nearby river mouths; also regular in winter on Lake San Antonio
photo © Don Roberson
25 Aug 2001 Moss Landing
Brown Pelican
Pelecanus occidentalis
Common non-breeding visitor along the coast; numbers highest in summer & fall, fewer in winter & spring. Formerly nested at Pt. Lobos (last nest 1966) but could nest again in future (breeding behaviors observed in some recent springs but no nesting yet)
photo © Don Roberson
21 Oct 1994 Monterey Bay
Brandt's Cormorant
Phalacrocorax penicillatrus
Breeds widely: common resident along the rocky shoreline from Monterey (sometimes on Coast Guard pier) and south down the Big Sur coast. Large colony at Pt. Lobos. Forages widely inside Monterey Bay, often in large near-shore flocks
photo © Don Roberson
July 1977 Pacific Grove
Double-crested Cormorant
Phalacrocorax auritus
Breeds locally: uncommon resident breeding in local colonies on Big Sur coast and at Elkhorn Slough reserve. Non-breeders or foragers are widespread and conspicuous on inland lakes, at Elkhorn Slough, and at some river mouths
photo © Don Roberson
4 Feb 1989 Pacific Grove
Pelagic Cormorant
Phalacrocorax pelagicus
Breeds widely: common resident along the rocky shoreline from Monterey (e.g., nests under buildings at Cannery Row) and south down the Big Sur coast. Forages close to shore; does not feed in flocks
photo © Don Roberson
30 Aug 1997 Moss Landing
Magnificent Frigatebird
Fregata magnificens
Very rare summer visitor offshore and sometimes along the coast; very rare at other seasons
photo © Daniel H. Varoujean
& L.J.V. Compagno
(from Auk 90:192)
4 Sep 1971 Moss Landing
Great Frigatebird
Fregata minor
Exceptional vagrant: one record of an adult male (Oct 1979)
photo © Larry Balch
9 Oct 1977 Monterey Bay

Use these links to reach other portions of the Monterey County list:

Part 1: Waterfowl through Grebes
Part 2: Albatrosses through Frigatebirds
Part 3: Herons through Cranes
Part 4: Plovers through Sandpipers
Part 5: Jaegers through Alcids
Part 6: Doves through Woodpeckers
Part 7: Flycatchers through Larks
Part 8: Swallows through Pipits
Part 9: Waxwings through Warblers
Part 10: Tanagers through Sparrows
Part 11: Grosbeaks through Finches
or just the plain Checklist (no annotations)
Readers may use this material for their own private enjoyment, study, or research but none of the photos or text herein may be used commercially nor may they be reposted on other web sites without written permission. All material is copyrighted. The posting of photos and text on this private web site is not a submission to review organizations.
for more information on the status & distribution of birds in Monterey County,
see Monterey Birds 2d ed.
by Don Roberson

click on cover (right) for ordering information and more details about the book




Page created 12-22 Jan 2004, updated 31 July 2004