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Can anyone identify what type species of bird this is?

The above image of an unidentified bird is from a recent grade school science textbook that discussed occupations in the sciences and this illustration was in a discussion or ornithologists.

Someone last night saw this image and swears it is the same, exact type of bird that flew into their NYC family backyard in the late 1980s. It has been a lifelong mystery to them.

Like in the illustration, it was a very large white bird with a gull-like beak, webbed feet, and very wide wingspan. Their bird was seemingly weak, dehydrated, or other. The family's guesses over the years was that it was NOT a flamingo, stork, pelican, or sea gull. None of the local experts from various agencies called to take the bird was able to identify it with complete certainty and also (supposedly) declined to take it into their custody. Though not able to identify it, the experts were reasonably sure it was not native to NYC. One ventured to tell the family that they believe it was a tropical bird of some type.

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