Tripod holes 9

roseate spoonbill Platalea ajaja and unconfirmed gull, likely herring gull Larus argentatus, hanging out
N 42°59’23.70″ W 76°45’9.08″ Google Earth Location

If you’re reasonably savvy about North American birds, you know the pink one is a roseate spoonbill (Platalea ajaja,) and if you know a decent amount about that species, you know that the location photographed is way the hell out of their range – you can try going back to this spot and seeing if you can find one, but I’m betting against it. As it was, this was in the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge at the northern tip of Cayuga Lake in central New York, and The Girlfriend gets credit for spotting it before me and realizing it was not a typical species to be seen there. The word was just getting out among the birders of the area, but only a couple had managed to get there by that point to witness it; we returned a couple days later and the visitors were abuzz about it, though the spoonbill wasn’t making an appearance at that time.

Why it was there, we really don’t know. I have heard of cases where major storms drive birds well outside of their normal range as they try to escape the strong winds and pressure systems, but there had been none that passed even close to New York. Spoonbills don’t even migrate across the US; their flight patterns just hit the coasts of southern Florida and Mexico, extending down through the Caribbean and into South America, so this was well over a thousand kilometers out of normal range. Escapee from a zoo or wildlife park? Probably not, as I do a little webbernetting and find an article from that time, but it doesn’t appear that the mystery had been solved by that point at least. Either way, we’ll happily accept the blind luck that let us see it during our visit.

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