This weekend was supposed to mark the Core Team’s first pelagic birding trip until high seas scuttled the expedition. What exactly does ‘pelagic’ mean, and what’s the big deal anyway?

Our birding word of the day, pelagic, means of, relating to, or living in open oceans or seas rather than waters adjacent to land or inland waters. Pelagic is an exciting term in the birding world because it describes birds not likely to seen anywhere near the mainland. Instead, intrepid souls must brave wind, waves, and obscenely early departure times just to catch a glimpse of these oceanic avians.

The pelagic species off the coasts of North America include shearwaters, skuas, jaegers, storm-petrels, kittiwakes, fulmars, gannets, tropicbirds, and various gulls and terns. The Pacific coast also boasts albatrosses. Many alcids, including puffins, murres, dovekies, and razorbills, can also be spotted offshore. A further highlight of pelagic birding, as if skuas weren’t enough, is the likely possibility of a cetacean sighting. Most excursions run into all manner of dolphin, porpoise, and whale. We hope one day to do the same!

Written by Mike
Mike is a leading authority in the field of standardized test preparation, but he's also a traveler who fully expects to see every bird in the world. Besides founding 10,000 Birds in 2003, Mike has also created a number of other entertaining but now extirpated nature blog resources, particularly the Nature Blog Network and I and the Bird.