Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Red-footed Booby at sea

With over 200 West Coast pelagic trips on my birding resume, it is rare these days that I get any life birds at sea. I attend pelagic trips because I enjoy them thoroughly, not to get life birds (although I will gladly accept them if they come my way). Nevertheless, on August 19th we came upon a Red-footed Booby off San Diego. It is a bird I had never seen before. I added Masked and Nazca Booby to my California list earlier this year. Now the only booby I haven't seen in California is the Blue-footed, which really is probably the second most likely after Brown Booby.

As you can see from the photos, Red-footed Booby is a bit larger than Western Gull. All the boobies are close to the same size. The body size is similar to a large gull, but the pointed tail and conical bill and pointed wings are longer. So they are larger than gulls but smaller than pelicans. And, remember, pelicans have broad rounded wings and a short tail.


The distal parts of the mandible are pink with a dark tip. The basal mandible and face is kind of a lilac-blue. The body is dark cream, tail pale brown, wings darker. This is a common coloration for this species, though white-bodied morphs occur. The bright bill and fully red feet indicate this is an adult. The wing plumage is pretty tattered and worn. This could indicate that this bird spent time recently nesting on land?

Red-footed Booby
Red-footed Booby
Red-footed Booby
Red-footed Booby
Red-footed Booby
Red-footed Booby
Red-footed Booby
Red-footed Booby
Red-footed Booby. Off San Diego, California. August 19, 2018.

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