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Storm Birding: Red-footed Booby (1 Viewer)


Well-known member
Hurricane Sally made landfall today just to the east of where I live. Being on the west side and just far enough from the center of the storm, we had little issue, some steady wind and light rain over the last 48 hours but no damaging winds or flooding. This morning, I walked down to the neighborhood pier that overlooks the Mississippi Sound to see if any birds had been blown in.

There was a lot of bird movement, likely inshore birds fleeing the storm as it landed - hundreds of Laughing Gulls and Forster's Terns moving east to west in a constant stream, peppered with Black, Royal, Sandwich, and Common terns, a few shorebirds, as well as Bank and Barn Swallows. Winds were coming from the north, so it didn't seem promising for storm-blown pelagics, and there were not even any frigatebirds about - not quite a "storm bird" here, uncommon but regular on any given summer day with southeast winds, though they typically show up in much greater numbers during strong storms.

Just as I was contemplating walking back home for more coffee, I saw a large brown bird fly by right over the rock jetties - characteristic shape of a booby! I snapped a few photos, thinking "huh... sure looks like a Red-footed but... nah, it's gotta be a Brown". It flew off and I excitedly texted a friend about it. A few minutes later it came by again, circled a few times, and then landed on the pier. Wait a minute... red feet! No doubt, it was an immature Red-footed Booby, quite an unexpected lifer! I texted "red feet" to my friend and started some other text chains to spread the word. The bird made a few more close passes over the next 15 minutes, but then it took off southward a mere 5 minutes before my first friends arrived. It did not return after an hour of waiting.

It would have been nice to share this find with at least a couple other people (well, my non-birding husband was there, he thought it was pretty cool). But this was a dream sighting that checked most of the boxes: self-found rarity, walking distance from my house, first state record, obliging enough to give good views and photo opportunities, and a most unexpected lifer in a year with limited opportunity for travel. Sure made my day!


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Andrew Whitehouse

Professor of Listening
Staff member
Fantastic account Abby. It's quite a worn looking individual. I wonder if the fact it wasn't in peak condition made it more likely to get blown in by the storm.


Mike Kilburn
Hong Kong
Made your day - that would have made my week, or even my month! Congratulations!

It seems Red-footed Boobies spread the love far and wide, and that September is a favoured month. I had Hong Kong's fourth record fly below the 27th floor window of my old apartment in Hong Kong in September 1997. Sadly no-one else saw that one either. And no, I had not had mushrooms for breakfast!


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