Dichotomous Key for Animals of Race Rocks

Description: This is a key to only the more common animals you may see using the remote cameras on Race Rocks. Use the taxonomy files to view others you may sight.

Go to the Race Rocks Taxonomy for more detailed descriptions of the organisms.

Number . Go to / and Identify
1a Bird 2
1b Mammal 30
2a Gull-like, white or brown 3
2b Non-gull 11
3a The Largest white-headed gull we see at Race Rocks. It is present March to October
Glaucous- winged gull Glaucous-winged Gulls
3b Other gulls 4
4a Present in large flocks – November to January. Colour white with beige-tinged flecks
Thayer’s gulls thayers.jpg
4b Other gulls 5
5a White – smaller head with an outlined eye
Mew gulls
5b Other gulls 6
6a Small white-headed gulls with black eyes and small black markings over the body. Often seen in flocks diving into the water… Aug to Dec.
Bonaparte’s gulls
6b Brown or dark grey gull. 7
7a Grey gull, short tail
Immature Glaucous winged gull immature
7b Brown gulls 8
8a Brown mottled. appear November thru Feb.
Immature Thayer’s gulls immature Thayers Gull
8b Brown Gull with orange beak. adults have white markings on the tail. Heerman’s Gull
9a For future additions.
10b NOTE : We are adding more birds frequently so they can not be anticipated in a key like this. Other gulls and shorebirds added since this key was made may be viewed in the Race Rocks Taxonomy files .. vertebrata-Aves-Charadriiformes



11a Predominantly black, long-necked bird:one of the 3 cormorant species 12
11b Birds other than gulls or cormorants: otherwise, all other shorebirds and land birds on Race Rocks. 14
12a Pale or yellow coloured face – present only during winter months
Double-crested cormorant double crested
12b Predominantly black face 13
13a Light-coloured throat patch, males with white ears – present in January
Brandts’ cormorant brandts cormorant
13b Snake-like neck, smallest of the cormorants
Pelagic cormorant at nest
14a Black with white wing patches and red feet
Pigeon guillimot pguil
14b Other shorebirds and landbirds and ducks/geese 15.
15a Shorebirds.and ducks/geese 16
15b Land birds.. shorter bills 21
16a Black with long red bill.. crow-sized
Black oyster-catcher black oyst
16b ducks or geese and other shorebirds 17
17a Small shorebird, often seen in winter near the fresh water pools. White breast, uppers mottled.black and white pattern in flight
Black turnstone turnstone
17b Duck or goose or land birds 18
18a Small colourful duck..swimming in kelp beds or perched very near shore
Harlequin Duck harlequin duck
18b Geese and other birds 19
19a Geese 20
19b Other birds 21
20a Large Goose, Black neck with white throat. Nests in April
Canada Goose Canadas
20b Half the size of the Canada goose, only rarely appears. white neck-ring and black chest.
Black Brant Goose brandt
21a Black- Crow-like bird 22
21b Other birds,and songbirds 24
22a Large black bird with thick bill. They are as large as Glaucous-winged gulls
Raven raven
22b Medium sized black bird smaller than Glaucous winged gulls. go to 23
23a Large black bird , the bill is finer than a raven’s
North-western Crow North Western Crow
23b Small balckish bird, speckled with color
European Starling
24a Very Large brown and white bird with a long bill equipped with a pouch
Brown Pelican
24b Other shorebirds go to 25
25a Long legged, and long necked bird… heron -like
Great Blue
Great Blue Heron
25b Other shorebirds go to 26
26 Brown shorebird with long bill curved downward. Brown eye- line.
Whimbrel Whimbrel


30a Always found in water, with fins, and a large, flat, two-pointed tail – Whales, Dolphins, Porpoises 31
30b Often found resting on land or on rocks – size of a dog or larger 37
31a Black with a large white patch on the belly, greater than 4m long, males with large dorsal fin (1m high or greater)
Killer whale
31b Not black or without white patches 32
32a Smaller, light grey colour, flippers smooth on edges
Gray whale Gray whale
32b Other marine mammals 33
33a Large whale, dark grey to black, with distinct ridged underbelly, flippers jagged on edges. usually seen solitary.
Humpback whale humpback
33b Small porpoise often seen in pods, leaping in the waves.
Dall's Porpoise
34a spare room for future whales and porpoises. See the taxonomy for other species that have been sighted near Race Rocks
37a Lie prone on land, rocks, or very shallow water; when swimming, are mostly submerged – Earless seals 38
37b May be sitting on their elbows or lying prone on land; often visible swimming in the water; colour beige through chocolate. 39
38a White through black colouration, may have young from April through July
Harbour seal Harbour seal
38b May be very large; length up to 4m; males have a bulbous nose; colour grey through chocolate.. present year round.Females smaller, usually on the top of middle rock, but not year round.
Elephant seal elephant seal
39a Small; long tail; runs on all fours on land may appear as serpent-like in water. River otter
39b Sea lions 40
40a High-browed; chocolate coloured
California sea lion california
40b Round forehead; light beige coloured; may be twice as large as California sea lion
Northern sea lion (Steller’s sea lion) Northern