Beatnik Birding: The Limp-legged Surfbird

by Bryce W. Robinson

Surfbird- Aphriza virgata

Surfbird- Aphriza virgata

A few days ago Caitlin Davis and I took a walk along the beach near Santa Monica looking for some spring migrants and remaining winter residents. It was a fairly productive walk with Brandt’s Cormorant, Red-throated Loon, Whimbrel, Western and Clark’s Grebe, Glaucous-winged Gull and more. The highlight for me was a pair of Surfbirds, one of which had a bum leg. The birds leg was lame, and it travelled about the beach without skipping a beat by hopping. It kept up with its compatriot, and seemed lively and healthy.

The lame-legged Surfbird

The lame-legged Surfbird

I was impressed that the bird was healthy, given that it lacked one leg. I appreciate the reminder of the adaptability that is common in nature. Of course, if one cannot adapt to maladies or changing conditions, one dies. It is nice to see a success story every once in a while.

The lame-legged Surfbird, and the compatriot

The lame-legged Surfbird, and the compatriot

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