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Another California Record of Red-Billed Tropic Bird

J. W. Sefton, Jr.
Publication Information
1 (January-February)
From Field and Study

Another California Record of Red-billed Tropic-bird

George Willett’s note on the taking of a Red-billed Tropic-bird (Phaethon aethereus) off southern California on June 26, 1937 (Condor, vol. 39, 1937, p. 226) was of particular interest to me, as I myself unmistakably observed a bird of this species in California waters on October 3, 1937. I w+s &hing for marlin, from a 22-foot open cockpit runabout, about five miles directly west of Point Loma, when I observed a bird in flight, the long central tail feathers of which, black eye-band, heavy red bill and quick wing-beat declared it to be something altogether new to me. It came close to the boat and alighted upon the water, holding up its tail, rooster-fashion.

The bird was very tame and we circled it twice at a distance of 50 to 75 feet before it took off. It alighted on the water again about half a mile away and we followed it. This time we ran the boat slowly up to the bird and shut off the engine--so Close, in fact, that we debated the chances of catching it in a hand net. I could easily have collected it, had I. had a gun of any sort. Under the circumstances, I had to satisfy myself by filming it with a hand motion-picture camera. My friends aboard and I had ample opportunity to study the bird at close range, and there can be no question of the identification which I made as soon as I had access to my books.

Willett informs me that there are only three previously published records for the State: Specimen (whereabouts now unknown) taken by W. H. Graves between Long Beach and Catalina Island in August, 1916 (Condor, vol. 21, 1919, p. 88); sight observations by Loye Miller (Condor, vol. 28, 1926, p. 14) ; and his own recent capture of a specimen referred to above.

J. W. Sefton, Jr.

San Diego Society of Natural History, Batboa Park, San Diego, California, October 19, 1937

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