California is suddenly THE place for Blue-footed boobies, the equatorial bird that is famous for its shocking colored feet (only when they are old enough!), mating dance and being a resident of the Galapagos Islands. Birders are flocking to the SoCal coastlines to catch a glimpse of this rare flapper that usually is found in warm waters.
So…why California? Biologists speculate that these are vagrant birds, Magelleans of the booby world, that are exploring beyond their normal range. Others wonder if global warming is enticing the boobies to travel more north in their expeditions. Who knows? The boobies aren’t talking.
According to eBird, as many as seven boobies have been spotted at Playa del Rey – Breakwater and Dana Point with reports being filed for sightings at Newport Pier, Ventura and inland lakes (Legg Lake) around Los Angeles and Riverside Counties. There was even one spotted up at Pt. Reyes Lighthouse in Northern California.
The folks at the International Bird Rescue in San Pedro also received one confused and emaciated booby which, according to executive director Jay Holcomb is “doing well.” The organization has cared for a booby in the past but it’s rare. This one was found wandering Sept. 12 near downtown Los Angeles.
“Upon intake, this bird was found to be thin with some minor abrasions on its maxilla and webbing,” he says. “This bird is now eating well and recovering in an outdoor aviary equipped with a large pool.”
“You can just see the light blue shading on its feet appearing,” says Kylie Clatterbuck of the IBR who calls the booby very mellow. In fact, she says, when the booby was first put in to the larger aviary, many gull babies rushed to it assuming, perhaps, it was “a mother.” Young pelicans also were intrigued with the booby, and finally staff had to move the booby to a smaller aviary away from the nosy beaks.
The IBR treats thousands of birds annually here in Southern California and is always up for public support.
— By Brenda Rees, photos courtesy of the International Bird Rescue