Share

Brown Booby Spotted in Buffalo for First Time

October 11, 2013

A brown booby, like the one shown above, was spotted in Buffalo, N.Y. for the first time ever. These birds are typically found in more tropical climates. (Duncan/Flickr)

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Birdwatchers in Buffalo are buzzing over the sighting of a brown booby.

Birders flocked to the city’s Lake Erie and Niagara River waterfronts this week to get a glimpse of the gull-like tropical diving bird normally found along the coasts of Central America.

It is the first time a brown booby has been sighted in the region.

It’s unusual to spot one anywhere in the United States, except in Florida and Southern California, experts said. One of the birds was seen this year in Connecticut.

“Its appearance here, well, there’s no explanation. The probability of one here is in the millions,” said Dominic Sherony of Fairport, who is among dozens of people from around western New York and Ontario who have arrived in Buffalo with binoculars and cameras.

“It’s not a bird kept in zoos or aviaries,” Sherony told The Buffalo News, discounting the idea it may have escaped from somewhere. “This is really mysterious.”

(MORE: Photos of Beautiful Bird Nests

The bird was first reported Monday and was seen again Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon. It initially was spotted by birdwatchers Sue Barth and Jim Pawlicki, who had braved a rainy Monday in search of another bird, a jaeger, which only comes out in bad weather.

“I’ve been on a mission to find a jaeger....Then Jim saw this bird,” Barth said. “Just being there was a stroke of luck. The conditions were so horrible, I don’t know how he even spotted it.”

The brown booby was with a group of double-crested cormorants, a common local waterbird similar in size and coloring to the booby.

“He was super-excited. At first he thought his eyes were deceiving him, but they weren’t,” Barth said of Pawlicki.

While insects are occasionally blown in on weather systems, there is no meteorological explanation for the booby’s presence in Buffalo, said climatologist Jessica Spaccio at the Northeast Regional Climate Center at Cornell University. “It’s just so far and there wouldn’t be any kind of system it could have gotten caught up in,” she said.

Asked about global warming, Spaccio said climate-change related migrations would happen more gradually and in larger numbers.

Birdwatchers are concerned that the bird, alone and far from its much warmer usual habitat, might not be able to find enough to eat in Buffalo. They are hopeful it will join the cormorants when they migrate south for winter.

MORE: Stunning Bird Portraits

Victoria-crowned pigeon, Goura victoria. The lavish crest and red eyes make this bird unmistakable. (Andrew Zuckerman)


Featured Blogs

More Water For California: New Enormous Water Works Programs Are Expensive

By Dr. Jeff Masters
April 18, 2014

From November 2013 - January 2014, a remarkably extreme jet stream pattern set up over North America, bringing the infamous "Polar Vortex" of cold air to the Midwest and Eastern U.S., and a "Ridiculously Resilient Ridge" of high pressure over California, which brought the worst winter drought conditions ever recorded to that state. A new study by Utah State scientist S.-Y. Simon Wang found that this jet stream pattern was the most extreme on record, and likely could not have grown so extreme without the influence of human-caused global warming.

A Warm Winter in Alaska

By Christopher C. Burt
April 18, 2014

In contrast to much of the contiguous U.S., the National Weather Service (NWS) in Alaska noted in a post this week that Alaska has enjoyed its third warmest ‘winter’ on record for 2013-2014. The period of time they are calling ‘winter’ is for the six months of October 2013 through 2014. Here are a few details.

I am a Failed Father

By Shaun Tanner
April 17, 2014

Being a father is very hard! I know, I sound like a whiner, but I felt especially bad this week when I caused my daughter to miss the lunar eclipse.

Polar Vortex, Global Warming, and Cold Weather

By Stu Ostro
January 10, 2014

Some thoughts about the recent viral meme(s).

What the 5th IPCC Assessment Doesn't Include

By Angela Fritz
September 27, 2013

Melting permafrost has the potential to release an additional 1.5 trillion tons of carbon into the atmosphere, and could increase our global average temperature by 1.5°F in addition to our day-to-day human emissions. However, this effect is not included in the IPCC report issued Friday morning, which means the estimates of how Earth's climate will change are likely on the conservative side.

Astronomical VS. Meteorological Winter

By Tom Niziol
March 1, 2013