GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Birdwatchers in north Florida are welcoming avian refugees from Hurricane Matthew.

The Gainesville Sun ( reports that the Black-capped Petrel, a 16-inch-long gull-like bird with distinctive black-and-white markings, has been spotted in Alachua County.

Gainesville resident and Florida Ornithological Society President Adam Kent first spotted their rare seabird Saturday sitting on Newnans Lake. The bird normally nests in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Rex Rowan, co-author of “A Birdwatcher’s Guide to Alachua County, Florida,” says the Black-capped Petrel has been seen only once before in Alachua County and only once elsewhere in inland Florida.

Once thought extinct, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology says only about 2,000 breeding pairs are estimated to exist.

Hurricanes and tropical storms commonly force seafaring birds such as gulls, terns and petrels inland.

Information from: The Gainesville (Fla.) Sun,