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Saturday, May 19, 2012


In case you didn't know, Jaeger is a German word meaning hunter. These birds certainly live up to their name.

So how do you locate Jaegers in the vast Gulf of Mexico? Do you ride around the Gulf in your boat, toss out a few Jaeger decoys, toot on a Jaeger call and wait?  :)

Nah, Dave Patton aka "The Jaeger Whisperer" has perfected his system for finding these powerful, strong-flying birds. Exactly how does his system work? Here's the hot poop. Jaegers just love Gulls. Why? Because these winged pirates are masters at stealing Gull's food. So, according to Dave, to find Jaegers you need to find Gulls by one of the following methods:
  1. Go to the Gulls
  2. Let the Gulls come to you.


How do you magically 'Go to the Gulls' in the vast Gulf of Mexico? Well, Dave explained Gulls are scavengers and love to follow shrimp boats. Therefore, drive close to a shrimp boat with Gulls hanging around and your probability of spotting a Jaeger just increased.

As luck would have it, there was a shrimp boat nearby. We drove up and lo and behold, a Jaeger was flying low over the water by the shrimp boat!



How do you get the gulls to come to you? Do you bring along a bull horn and announce, "All Gulls please report to my boat?" Of course not but it's simple if you know Dave's second trick. He knows Gulls love POPCORN. He prepared several bags of gourmet popcorn prior to the trip. He tore open the bags, tossed the popcorn in the water and instantly we were knee deep in Gulls screaming at each other to get away. These Gulls responded to food faster than the Grackles at Sonic Drive Inn.

Dave now had the Gulls "coming to us" and guess who came flying in low over the water to see what all the ruckus was about? Notice how the Jaeger is similar in overall appearance to a Gull with the exception of its falcon-like wings.

The Gulls made like Elvis and "left the building" when the Jaeger flew in. The popcorn is still floating in the water (lower left hand corner) with no Gulls in view. Please don't anyone email me, "Who is Elvis?" :)


POMARINE JAEGER - One of the identifying characteristics is its broad and central twisted tail feathers ranging in length from 2 - 7 inches. We saw five Pomarines on our trip.

PARASITIC JAEGER - Can you see the difference between the Parasitic and Pomarine Jaeger? Unlike the Pomarine Jaeger's broad and central twisted tail feathers it has two sharp tail points on its tail feathers. The Parasitic Jaeger is uncommon in Louisiana and is a review list bird. We were fortunate to see two.

LONG-TAILED JAEGER - As far as I know none have been seen in Louisiana.


1a. A Pomarine Jaeger singles out a Gull and the chase is on! The strong-flying Jaegers demonstrated their flying agility as they harassed the Gulls and stole their food.

1b. The Gull had enough of the Jaeger's harassment and dropped his fish. Note the Pomarine Jaeger with his mouth open attempting to catch the fish in mid-air before it hits the water.

1c. The Gull flees as the Pomarine Jaeger turns and watches the fish hit the water.

1d. Mission accomplished! The Pomarine Jaeger scoops up the fish, flies off and the Gull is left to hunt once again.

So, are these daring, fierce, feathered Pirates lazy for not always hunting their own prey or are they clever for letting others do their work?

2a, This Gull just thought he was getting away from the persistent Parasitic Jaeger. Little did he know that Jaegers don't give up until they get what they want.

2b. A feathered shake and bake by the pirating Jaeger placed him right behind the Gull as he prepared to ram him in mid-air to steal a meal.

3. This Gull momentarily eluded the Pomarine Jaeger in a high-speed chase until the Jaeger executed a sharp bank and was back in hot pursuit.

Dave spotted this Brown Pelican sitting on the Jetty Rocks with a yellow tag reading 1XO as we drove by in his boat.

It was a great day to be out and a fun time was had by all.

Thanks for looking, :)


  1. Remarkably nice series of shots. And I enjoyed the commentary, too.

    I saw a bald eagle harassing a herring gull similarly and the frigatebirds are experts, too.


    1. Your comments are much appreciated. It was great being out with Dave, Robby and seeing the Jaegers in action first hand.

      Watching the Frigatebirds / Bald Eagle perform similarly must have been pretty amazing. :)

  2. You can report the pelican marker at www.reportband.gov. The BBL will give you the original banding data for the bird.