The brown booby, a tropical seabird not native to the Pacific Northwest, was found shivering and immobile at Ogden Point Jan. 29. Wild Arc photo

Brown Booby seabird a rare sight in Victoria

Wild ARC says creature likely blown off course as a result of recent storms

The Pacific Northwest is home to some incredible scenery and unique species, but when a Brown Booby seabird was spotted at Ogden Point, it was a rarity.

Victoria resident June Elaine Pigeon came across the creature, more native to tropical climates, while out walking Jan. 29. Pigeon called the SPCA and the bird was taken to the Central Victoria Veterinary Hospital before being transferred to the Wild Animal Rehabilitation Centre in Metchosin where it is stable, but still suffering from wounds on its feet and breast.

“The first 72 hours are critical,” said Marguerite Sans, senior wildlife rehabilitator at Wild ARC. She described the bird as emaciated, a factor most likely contributing to her injuries.

“To me that suggests if she was off course and not finding a good place to find fish then she started doing poorly,” she explained.

The team at Wild ARC suspect the bird is female, based on the colour of her beak and her face. Typically males will have more blue around the eyes, whereas hers is more of a grey colour.

Sans said caring for her has been a gradual process because her body has already begun to shut down and cannot process food.

“The care of seabirds is very specific and they require quite specific care because they’re usually found out on water and because of those adaptations we have to be careful with their feather quality and their feet,” she added.

Brown Boobies rely on wind and air currents to travel, so Sans thinks it’s possible the recent windstorms have blown the bird off its migration patterns.

Still, it’s rare to see them in this area, some 3,000 km from their breeding sites in the Gulf of Mexico and the islands around Central America, where they are widespread.

“There is so little research and their colonies are sensitive on small islands so there is suspicion their population is declining,” she added.

Sans reminds people that if they come across an injured animal, it’s important to keep a distance, particularly if dogs or other pets are also present. Moving the animal is not recommended either, in order to prevent further injury or stress.

kristyn.anthony@vicnews.com

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