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Yellow-billed Cuckoo; old news on a Laysan Albatross

8:47 pm

Dear friends,


On 17 July 2023 a Yellow-billed Cuckoo hit a window of a house along Derringer Rd. in Poway—not near any riparian habitat. The bird failed attempted rehabilitation at Project Wildlife and came to the museum, where I prepared the specimen. The specimen is even more remarkable because it was a female that had recently laid: there were at least two burst follicles evident in the ovary. Of course, the Yellow-billed Cuckoo is famous for the brevity of its nesting cycle, and tagging had demonstrated that the birds wander widely even through the middle of summer. So this specimen’s ovary is not proof that it nested close by, but strengthens the possibility. I don’t ever see burst follicles in females that have left their breeding range.


Last week Kim Peterson of Sea World and a couple of her staff visited me at the San Diego Natural History Museum. Kim showed me a picture of one of their successful releases of a bird rehabilitated at Sea World: a Laysan Albatross. The story is that she got a call from someone in Valley Center that an albatross needed rescue. She assumed the bird was just a gull but went to pick it up, then was astonished to see that it really was a Laysan Albatross, found in an agricultural field. The date was 16 April 2017.


Speaking of seabirds inland, a hot topic today, if anyone recovers a dead specimen over the next few days, please be so kind to hold it frozen and sealed in a plastic bag until next Sunday. I have a previously scheduled field trip to Ensenada Tuesday to Saturday. I have alerted Maria Gonzalez of Project Wildlife and Kim Peterson that such birds are coming their way. And, no surprise, Hiram Moreno-Higareda and other birders in Ensenada encountered a Least Storm-Petrel at that city’s reservoir today.


Good birding,


Philip Unitt

San Diego