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Blue-Footed Boobies Invade SoCal

Blue-footed boobies performing a mating dance. (Photo by BlueOrange Studio / Shutterstock)
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The blue-footed booby (yes, it's a bird that has blue feet and that oh-so-fun name), has been showing up all over SoCal in recent weeks.

The LA Times reports that the colorfully-footed birds have been sighted at least 30 times in Southern California and as far north as Marin County.

The boobies rarely venture north of Imperial County's Salton Sea, according to birdwatchers. Experts speculate that the birds, most of them juveniles, may be wandering farther north in search of food.

An emaciated young bird was found yesterday waddling along a sidewalk near 2nd and West Slauson south of downtown, according to the Times. It's now recovering at the International Bird Rescue Center in San Pedro and being fed as many fish as it can eat.

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"He's still really skinny," Kylie Clatterbuck, a rehabilitation technician at the facility told the Times. "We're going to fatten him up a little bit."

A similar wave of the birds hit Los Angeles County in the early 1970s, according to the Times.

"This is the first invasion of boobies since the numbers of birders have swelled," said Kimball Garrett, manager of the ornithology collection at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County tells the Times."So, there's a lot of happy bird-watchers seeing them for the first time."

The sightings include six relaxing on the breakwater at Marina del Rey, a few photographed at Playa Del Rey, one "loafing" at Gladstone's in Malibu, and five hanging out at Lake Skinner County Park, Riverside, according to e-Bird andSoCalWild.

"I think I have looked out at the Pacific Ocean thousands of times looking for birds, but I have never expected to see this bird," says Dan Cooper an independent biologist who spotted the booby near Gladstone's. He told e-Bird he spotted the bird, "Loafing, not feeding," adding, "This is very rare." Especially since he said an overabundance of small fish had been causing a recent feeding frenzy off the coast.

David Bell, another birder wrote about what was likely the same booby on e-Bird: "About an hour later it came in closer to shore to join a group of feeding cormorants, pelicans and gulls around a pod of porpoises. The obvious irregular white spots above made it immediately obvious that it was a blue-footed booby."

So, welcome, boobies! Make yourselves at home.