Backyard Chirper

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Albatross lost in L.A. safely freed to fly home to Hawaii

There are many birds you’re sure you are never going to see at your backyard bird feeder. For example, you probably never expect to see a Sri Lankan Frogmouth in your yard or a Frigatebird eating at your tube feeder. However, sometimes you could be surprised at what you might find.

That’s exactly what happened in Los Angeles when a group of drivers on the freeway spotted a huge Laysan Albatross with a 7-foot wingspan nonchalantly sitting in the back of a pickup truck.

When the driver of the truck saw alarmed motorists trying to flag him down, he noticed the massive bird in the back and immediately turned the bird over to lifeguards.

If you’ve never seen a Laysan Albatross, picture a seagull on steroids. They usually have a greyish back with white underparts and a pink beak. These “near threatened” seabirds are usually only found on remote islands in the North Pacific where they nest.

Rescuers have an idea as to how this beautiful bird made it’s way to L.A. (and it’s not because it was trying to make it to Hollywood). Here’s an excerpt from the Los Angeles Times:

They suspect the bird stowed away on a cargo ship, hitching a trans-Pacific ride to Los Angeles before disembarking and hopping into the pickup.

The seabirds are adept at soaring long distances and can spend years roaming vast areas of the ocean without ever touching land. But they can mistake the flat surface of a passing container ship for a nesting island, landing and sitting there unnoticed until the ship arrives in port.

A group called International Bird Rescue took care of the bird for four days to make sure it was healthy and released the bird off the coast of California on Tuesday. They released the albatross far enough from shore to encourage it to head back home to Hawaii.

Amazingly, these birds are known for being out at sea for years at a time and can fly around the world in a mere 46 days, so getting to Hawaii from California is like a walk through the park.

So, the next time you go outside, always keep an eye out for the unexpected because you never know what you might see.

Timothy Martinez Jr. is a writer and freelance journalist. His work has been published in The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, Remapping Debate in New York City and other publications. He’s been a bird lover since he was young and currently lives in New Orleans, L.A.


  1. Wow, that’s an amazing story! You just never know what might turn up.

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