Joshua and Becky — February 04, 03:50AM
Albatross looking bird near Palo Alto, California?
My wife and I were driving North on Highway 101 through Palo Alto, California today (2/3/2018) when we sighted a very large flying bird along the Baylands Nature Preserve. We first thought it was a Pelican but as the bird flew by we were struck by it's immense wingspan and it's distinctive features of an albatross including large webbed feet and a large yellow beak. We know our gulls and this was not a gull. The bird was 2-3 times the size of a Western Gull with a different color pattern. I am a novice bird watcher but I thought I was looking at a Waved Albatross. Waved Albatross? No way.....Peru is too far away even in these strange climate changing times. Any ideas as to what we might have been looking at? I wasn't sure which birding community I should pose our question to.
Thank You in advance...
Joshua and Becky
Santa Cruz, California
Menlo — February 05, 10:44AM
there are excellent online resources for that.
If you have pcictures, try for example the FaceBook page 'What's this bird?' or the many local and not local FB pages meant to provide assistance with bird IDs (such as the 'facebook bird id group of the world'.)
In alternative, if you only have a narrative description, there is a forum at the page 'whatbird.com'.
Caleb Marshall — February 06, 08:59AM
Have you considered a Laysan Albatross? EBird Range maps show that they have been sighted on the pacific coast.
A Waved Albatross is highly unlikely in the Northern Hemishpere, and has only recorded a few times outside of the tropics.
Fred Werner — February 10, 07:21PM
Are you sure it wasn't an American White Pelican? Their wingspan is immense (~9 ft. compared to ~7 ft. for both Laysan Albatross and Brown Pelicans) and their bills are bright yellow. They're more typical of inland freshwater areas than the Bay, but I have seen them flying over in the East Bay and the North Bay before.