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#ABArare – Red-footed Booby – California

On October 29, Josiah Clark found a young booby in Pillar Point Harbor in San Mateo County, California. It was later refound on November 13 where it was identified as an ABA Code 4 Red-footed Booby. While the species is somewhat regular in extreme southern Florida, it is far less common in the Pacific basin. This is only about the 15th record for California, and the farthest north in nearly 30 years.

Pillar Point Harbor is just south of Half Moon Bay airport. Birders have reported that the bird is spending time on the inner breakwater. Best views have reportedly been obtained from walking out on the outer breakwater from Pillar Point Harbor Beach.

Red-footed Boobies are polymorphic with a white, black-tailed white, “golden” white, brown, white-tailed brown, white-headed brown, and white-tailed brown morphs.  It is one of two booby species that nest in trees where they will also roost. All California specimen records consist of the subspecies websteri, which breeds in the eastern tropical Pacific.

Notably, Red-footed Booby has been recorded recently in Texas. There were also a small handful of individuals seen early this year in San Diego, California.

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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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  • birder69

    Although a couple of vagrants were noted in the 1930s, I believe that my late wife, Betty Burridge of Sonoma County birding fame, had one of the earliest records of the blue-footed booby in California east of Calexico close to the All-American Canal in about 1974. We laughed as she added it to her life list and photographed it, and I said, “Wow, that was ‘just barely!” The bird, standing in the sand, could not have been more than 100 feet north of the boundary fence, which in those days was a benign little wire barrier aimed more at cattle than humans.

  • Pingback: Rare Bird Alert: November 17, 2017 « ABA Blog()

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