All of who consider ourselves birders know the thrill of finding a “life bird,” i.e., a bird we’ve never seen before.
This brown booby (Sula leucogaster) was a lifer for me several years ago.
This bird showed up in San Diego at La Jolla Cliffs and sat there for maybe 10 seconds. Then – I turned around to grab another lens and the bird was gone. I’ve never seen one before or since and obviously never photographed one since. The booby was there long enough for me to press the shutter twice – but it was long enough.
My life list is different from most. I only add a bird if I can make a reasonably close portrait and in this case, the brown booby was close enough for me to do that. It was my 100th bird. Very exciting.
Beyond my excitement at finding a life bird, this species is very fascinating. I wish sometimes I could spend more time in that area because they will come build nests on the cliffs at La Jolla. But they tend to build the nests in hard to see places – unless you are a rock climber.
Cool (or kind of gross – depending on how you look at it) fact about these birds is that they often build nests consisting of bodies of dead Sooty Tern chicks. Yuk.
Brown booby pairs may remain together over several seasons. They perform elaborate greeting rituals, and are also spectacular divers, plunging into the ocean at high speed. They mainly eat small fish or squid which gather in groups near the surface and may catch leaping fish while skimming the surface. Although they are powerful and agile fliers, they are particularly clumsy in takeoffs and landings; they use strong winds and high perches to assist their takeoffs.
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Scott Bourne is an Olympus Visionary, a professional bird/wildlife photographer, author and lecturer who specializes in birds. He is a pioneer in digital photography and was named one of the “30 most influential photographers on the Web” by Huffington Post. His photographic experience spans four decades and his bird/wildlife images have been published in more than 200 magazines and periodicals. He is also a Signed Master at Studio of Masters in China.
Scott has been a founder, co-founder, advisor or early stage investor in several technology companies such as NetRadio, Photofocus, and ViewBug.