After gloriously soaring to freedom over Falmouth on Sunday, a rare yellow-nosed albatross is back in captivity, thousands of miles from its South Atlantic range.

Jane Dolph and her son were driving in the pouring rain Monday afternoon when they were startled by an enormous waddling bird in the middle of the road, under a Route 25 overpass in Plymouth. A radio antenna was strapped to its back.

“It was such a beautiful bird,” Dolph said yesterday. “If it was a pigeon, I would have said leave it.”

She didn’t know that it was the albatross that researchers from the Tufts School of Veterinary Medicine had released the previous day on a Cape Cod beach, hoping it would fly far out to sea. Dolph’s son Cyrus frantically called for help and found a Wareham wildlife rehabilitator to take the bird in. Last night, the albatross was back at Tufts, where it had been nursed back to health after being discovered emaciated in a Maine cow pasture a month ago.

Scientists are unsure why the bird returned to shore, but say it is in good health. Perhaps the winds were too light to support its wings, which span 6 feet. Or maybe the creature became disoriented. They are running tests and hope to release it again, this time miles out at sea.