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Can anyone identify what type species of bird this is?
http://i.imgur.com/LMViET3.jpg

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.

Johnny
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looks like a white albatross

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albatross
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Albatross was my first guess, too.

Nancy
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I'm going to third albatross.

GSF
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Thanks 4thebird and everyone else!

I am going to email that friend with the information and find out what she thinks. Even though all of us assembled on that evening know much about animals (and particularly birds), we were wondering about the mysterious for at last half an hour. I didn't know anything about albatrosses and that wiki article link was quite a mouthful. So many species, categories, etc.

From what little I can tell and on her descriptions, it looks like one of the "great albatrosses." Possibly one of the "Wandering Albatross" subtypes. The bird they found was apparently all white, but none of the descriptions I've skimmed thus far have a truly all white albatross unless it is a male, or under a certain age.

Do any of you have any idea how and why this probable albatross would have shown up in the extremely urban environment of NYC in the late 1980s? My own guesses were these:

#1. Some exotic animal collector had brought the albatross to the tristate area illegally and it had gotten loose (or less likely, the bird was being legally transported and somehow got loose, but was not reported to any of the local animal welfare agencies).

#2. Least likely and requires a convoluted mess of events: this albatross may have been in some sort of zoo or aviary from the southeastern U.S. and during one of the major eastern seaboard tropiocal storms, hurricanes, etc., was injured, disoriented, or other and somehow made it up the east coast.

We tried to ask her a lot of specifics about when and how (year, month, seasons, etc.), but her memory was scarce on many of the surrounding issues other than the bird itself.

Curiosity almost satisfied,
Johnny
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An albatross wouldn't have to be from a zoo or aviary to wind up in NYC. Every once in a while a major storm will toss one way off-course and it will end up thousands of miles from where it belongs. Google albatross off-course and you'll get a lot of hits.

Nancy
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