Blue-footed Boobies Visit California Coast (2013)
The Blue-footed Booby (Sula nebouxii) is a subtropical seabird commonly found from the Galapagos Islands to the Sea of Cortez. It has a distinctive, long and pointed beak, waddles clumsily while on land, and bright blue webbed feet. In September 2013 Blue-footed Boobies appeared along the coast of California with dozens of sightings recorded, especially in Southern California, a rare event that that has not been noted since 1971. Bird trackers have spotted them as far north at Point Reyes and sightings in MBNMS include Point Pinos, Capitola, Live Oak and Pescadero.
Most of the Blue-footed Boobies appear to be juveniles, which have yet to develop the telltale blue feet. They tend to dwell in flocks of brown pelicans, which they sort of resemble. According to local ornithologist Don Roberson, it has been 42 years since one was last recorded in Monterey County. It is not known why the Blue-footed Boobies have ventured this far north, but some speculate an abundance of prey, including anchovies, in Monterey Bay may be part of the explanation. When food supplies are scarce, especially during years of high reproductive output, the juveniles may fly far and wide to find sufficient food supplies to support their growth.