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"It's an ill wind that blows no good," a proverb dating to 1546 (John Heywood) does have a different take.

In no way to lessen the misery and damage caused by August's Hurricane Ida (or any of the recent storms drowning Southeast and Eastern Seaboard states), birders have found a bright side to the gloom.

As always, storms coming off the Gulf of Mexico or swinging ashore from the Atlantic Ocean carry with them seabirds rarely if ever seen in the inland locations where the storms drop them.

Hurricane Ida left a long list of seabirds blown all the way to Arkansas and Tennessee.

There is a Hurricane Ida report on the American Birding Association website (

For instance, a Bulwer's petrel rode the storm into Florida all the way from seas off the northern coast of South America, its usual location. Petrels are small narrow-winged seabirds of the tube-nose family. There actually are tubes atop its bill used to extrude salt ingested when eating.

A wedge-tailed shearwater, at home off the west coast of Central America and Mexico, also was found in Florida. There is uncertainty about its delivery by storm, but it was unlikely to get to Florida on its own. (Shearwaters are related to petrels.)

There are no similar reports from any Minnesota location. That would be one heckuva storm!

Lifelong birder Jim Williams can be reached at