Long-tailed Jaeger eating a Silk Moth
All photos and text copyright © Phil Jeffrey, 2001-2009. I don't have an issue with personal use the images, but for all other uses please contact me.On the August 17th 2003 Pelagic out of Belmar NJ, run by See Life Paulagics, we came across a juvenile Long-tailed Jaeger. It spent some of it's time attempting to devour a huge moth. A few of pictures of it are below. The images from my digital SLR are beset with green/red noise, which should be taken into account, since I was using a high ASA setting under the murky conditions.
An email from Tom Burke prompted me to take a closer look at my photographs of this moth. At the time I was preoccupied with the Jaeger, since Long-tailed was a life bird.
These last two images seem to show a larger dark spot on the anterior wing, in addition to the smaller one on the forewing. There's also a noticable black line paralleling the trailing edge of the wing. Although I have no experience of moth ID, I surfed the Moths of America web page from the USGS, and came up with what I think is a reasonable fit: the Polyphemus moth (Antheraea polyphemus) of the family Saturniidae (USGS account of this moth). The wing shape, overall coloring, and location of spots and the dark line on the forewing and hindwing seems to fit this moth better than any other on this site. The moth probably hitched a ride on the boat from Belmar, although the nearest land mass at the time (Suffolk Co, Long Island, NY) is within the range of this moth if it was adventurous enough to head straight out into the Atlantic.