Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Shearwater dive-bombs its way into records books

Rare birds have been discovered in all kinds of strange circumstances, but few can match the bizarre story of the latest addition to the North American list.

On the nights of 1 and 2 August, workers repairing railway lines at Del Mar, California, were dive-bombed by a bird which had flown in from the ocean, and which was presumably attracted to the headlamps they were wearing on their helmets. It was taken into care by Project Wildlife staff, and later taken to the San Diego Natural History Museum for identification.

No one could possibly have predicted that the bird would go on to cause such a stir. But Phil Unitt, the Collection Manager at the museum’s Department of Birds and Mammals, made an historic discovery when he realised it was a Newell’s Shearwater – a bird not only new to California, but also to mainland North America and the eastern Pacific region.

Newell’s Shearwater, which breeds in Hawaii, is actually a well-defined subspecies of Townsend’s Shearwater, and a possible future split. The California bird was extensively photographed in the hand and fully documented, and the record has already apparently been submitted to the records committees.

The California bird currently survives in captivity, and plans are reportedly being made for its release, perhaps after having it returned to Hawaii on an aircraft.

For the full story and photos, click here.

Source: Seabird-News