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#ABArare – Brown Booby – Ontario/New York

Blue-footed Boobies aren’t the only Sulids to stage an incursion this year. Perhaps desperate to pull attention from their flashy-footed co-geners, Brown Boobies (ABA Code 3) have been continuing to show up in unexpected places into the fall. The latest is truly unexpected. On October 7, a group of birders in Buffalo, New York spotted a Brown Booby on Lake Erie at the source of the Niagara River that was later observed flying across the river into Ontario waters. The bird was in the vicinity of the Peace Bridge and has roosted the last two nights on breakwall and lighthouse structures on the New York side of the river.

This is a first record for Ontario, and one of a dozen or so for New York. All previous NY records have been from the coast, however, and this is the first for western New York and a first for the Great Lakes.


photo by Erich Lehner, used with permission

Birders on both the Canadian and United States side of the river have seen the bird in their respective jurisdictions. Sites in New York from which the bird has been seen include Erie Basin Marina, Lasalle Park, and West Side Rowing Club. Sites in Ontario include Mather Park.

Conditions have been less than optimal for viewing and photography of this bird. For up to date reports, continue to check the Ontario and New York-Gennessee listservs.

This pantropical species is known to disperse northward after breeding and it is the nominate subspecies that occurs in the Caribbean and tropical Atlantic. There are several records from as far north as New England and the Maritime Provinces. As mentioned before, this is the first record of the species for the Great Lakes.

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Nate Swick

Nate Swick

Editor, Social Media Manager at American Birding Association
Nate Swick is the editor of the American Birding Association Blog, social media manager for the ABA, and the host of the American Birding Podcast. He lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, with his wife, Danielle, and two young children. He is the author of Birding for the Curious and The ABA Field Guide to Birds of the Carolinas.
Nate Swick

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