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#ABArare – Brown Booby – Nebraska

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Few species have been as prone to vagrancy in recent years as Brown Booby. The far-ranging Sulid has been recorded as far afield as Atlantic Canada in the east and Washington in the west, with exceptional individuals seen well inland in Arkansas and Texas.

We can add another point to that bizarre map, this time right smack in the middle of the continent, with the remarkable record of an individual Brown Booby photographed in Sarpy County, Nebraska, in the southeast part of the state. It was originally photographed by a local woman named Joan (last name not public), and the photos passed on via Justin Rink and Mark Brogie. This is obviously a first state record, and the first record of a Sulid of any type in the midwest away from a state or province that borders the Great Lakes.

A remarkable photo of a Brown Booby in Sarpy County, Nebraska. Photos via Mark Brogie

A remarkable photo of a Brown Booby in Sarpy County, Nebraska. Photos via Mark Brogie

The photos were initially taken on June 28, and the bird was seen subsequently the following two days. The location is in the vicinity of the Hanson Lake development south of Omaha near LaPlatte, which is largely private property. In any case, the bird has not been seen since the photos were made public.

As incredible as it seems for a Brown Booby to end up in Nebraska, the species has a penchant for turning up in strange places. Arkansas has hosted the species at least twice (possibly the same, returning, individual) in 2012 and 2013 in situations very similar to this Nebraska bird in that the bird showed up on a small, private lake. Just last October a Brown Booby was seen on eastern Lake Erie, on the New York/Ontario border, by many birders on both sides of the lake. Brown Boobies, and Sulids in general, are strong flyers and prone to dispersal. If one could end up in Nebraska, one could end up anywhere in the ABA Area.

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Nate Swick

Nate Swick

Nate Swick is the editor of the American Birding Association Blog. A long-time member of the bird blogosphere, Nate has been writing about birds and birding at The Drinking Bird since 2007, but can also be found writing regularly at 10,000 Birds. In the non-digital world, he's an environmental educator and interpretive naturalist. Nate lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, with his wife, Danielle, and two young children, who are not yet aware that they are being groomed to be birders.
Birders know well that the healthiest, most dynamic choruses contain many different voices. The birding community encompasses a wide variety of interests, talents, and convictions. All are welcome.
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