Tropical brown booby shows up on Oregon Coast after storm batters Pacific Northwest
NEWPORT, Ore. – A brown booby, a tropical bird more common off the coast of Central America, showed up on an Oregon beach after a heavy storm battered the Pacific Northwest, just the 20th recorded sighting here, the Oregon Coast Aquarium says.
Kim Hancher came across the bird Sunday near South Beach State Park and called the Aquarium.
“We initially came across the bird while walking the beach, but we didn’t approach because we didn’t want to disturb it," Hancher said. "Since we live nearby, we continued to watch it with our binoculars and saw that even as people walked by with their dogs, the bird was not moving at all. So that’s when we called the Aquarium.
"Of course, we had no clue what kind of bird it was," Hancher said. "When we went back out to catch it, we realized how big of a wing span it had, making it much larger than we thought initially.”
That's why the Aquarium took action.
"Generally, the Aquarium requests that injured birds be brought to our facility due to time constraints," staff said in a statement. "But in cases such as this, where the bird is large and potentially dangerous, staff will go to retrieve the animal if possible. Upon arrival at the beach, our aviculturists identified the large, brown bird as a rare juvenile brown booby."
Brown boobies live in tropical or subtropical zones off the coast of Central America.
That isn't the Oregon Coast.
"In the past few decades, however, the brown boobies’ range has expanded northward," the Aquariuam staff said in a statement. "Just last fall, biologists discovered the first instance of these seabirds nesting as far north as California in Channel Islands National Park."
Fewer than 20 brown boobies have been seen on the Oregon Coast, according to the Aquarium.
"Aquarium staff hypothesize that the weekend storm contributed to the fatigued bird’s stranding on our coast, over 1,000 miles north of the Channel Islands in California," the Aquarium said in a statement.
Aquarium staff determined the bird hadn't suffered a serious injury and placed the bird on fluid therapy.
“The fluid treatment hydrates the bird and gradually provides calories, which allows the digestive system to resume normal functioning,” said C.J. McCarty, Curator of Birds. “We just introduced whole fish to its diet on Tuesday to help the bird put on weight and gain strength.”
Once stable, the Aquarium hopes to transfer the bird to International Bird Rescue in San Pedro, Calif.
“Since our coast is far outside of its normal range, we transfer it south to ensure its release in an appropriate environment based on its migratory cycle, food availability, and time of year,” said McCarty.
What does finding a brown booby on the Oregon Coast mean?
"The expansion of the brown boobie’s range northward coincides with changes in oceanic conditions and prey availability associated with recent El Niño events," the Aquarium said. "Despite the range expansion, brown booby populations are in decline due to the introduction of nonnative species to their island habitats, which reduces nesting success."
What should YOU do if you find an animal you believe is in trouble?
The Aquarium said not to touch or approach the animal. If you suspect it may need human assistance, you can contact Oregon State Police or the Marine Mammal Stranding Network.