Ornithologists have observed migratory landbirds from offshore ships for over a century. These birds are often in poor condition and thrown off course by storms. We report observations of migratory landbirds on a research vessel that was 320 km offshore in the western North Atlantic Ocean, shortly after Hurricane Gonzalo moved through the area. Between 19 and 25 October 2014, we observed nine passerine species and one falcon species. Two of these passerine species have not previously been observed on offshore ships. We also describe passerine and falcon foraging behaviors that have not been reported before. We examined six passerine birds found dead on the ship and concluded that they likely died of starvation and exhaustion. The passerines we observed may have been disturbed by Hurricane Gonzalo, forcing birds in poor condition to land on the ship. We encourage ornithologists to publish offshore accounts of migratory landbirds to improve our understanding of avian migration.
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Vol. 129 • No. 2