Thursday, May 1, 2003

South American Tern [sic]

While scanning the flock of gulls and terns at Paitilla, Rosabel and Karl Kaufmann and Delicia Montañez found a South American Tern, the first record of the species for Panama, which normally ranges down both coasts of, you guessed, South America, from southern Perú and Brazil to Patagonia. The bird, first spotted by Delicia, was the same size as a Sandwich Tern it was standing next to, but had bright red legs and a long, relatively thin reddish bill. Is this the harbinger of a new flurry of El Niño birds? Only time will tell. Later on, they had an albino Neotropic Cormorant standing among about 2,000 normal birds at Costa del Este. This bird was completely white, with yellow legs and bill.
[Later analysis proved the bird to be an aberrant elegant tern: A closer examination of the South American (sic) Tern photos showed that some features of this bird, especially bill shape and size and tarsi lenght, were not right. Current consensus has it that the bird was an aberrant Elegant Tern, one of the 10% that show pale legs. We at Xenornis apologize for the misunderstanding, and for sending any of y'all out there in search of just another Elegant Tern.]

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