08 July 2014

Booby an Exciting Occurrence for Nebraska Birders

The occurrence of a Brown Booby in eastern Nebraska has caused great excitement in the ornithological community of Nebraska and elsewhere.

According to details, the bird was present from June 28-30 at Hansen Lake, in southern Sarpy County, adjacent to the lower Platte River.

Justin Rink, followed up with additional details:

"The closest this species has come to Nebraska is southern Arkansas (adult female). There are NO records for the Midwest or western Great Lakes region. An adult female was observed at Niagra, New York on October 13, 2013. Another bird was apparently observed an documented in inland North Carolina close to the Virginia border. This bird is an occasional visitor to the warm waters off of southern Florida and the Gulf Stream. A few coastal Texas records also exist The Atlantic race breeds as close to the U.S. as the Caribbean. The western subspecies is sometimes observed in Arizona and California, and nests on an island just south of San Diego in Baja California Norte, Mexico.

If accepted this will constitute the first Sulid for the state of Nebraska."

Rink visited the lake on July 3rd, to see if the bird was still present. Through the courtesy of Steve and Patty S., he was able to ride along in their boat around the lake. The bird was not seen. Rink then also looked around the vicinity at several other prominent lakes, to see if the booby might be found elsewhere. His search was not successful.

The lake was described as:

"I learned many different attributes about this lake including the fact that it is very clean, and has a huge number of baitfish that will swirl at the surface. Because of this, feeding was probably a breeze for the Booby. Most of the 'backyards' contain a beach from Platte River sand that probably made the bird feel at home."

"The four photos clearly showed an adult male Brown Booby of nominate Atlantic race leucogaster sitting on a boat covered by a tarp," according to details given on the NEbirds forum.

Brown Booby at Hansen Lake. Both pictures were taken June 30, 2014. Images are courtesy of Mark Brogie, Nebraska Ornithologists' Union record committee.


Hansen Lake is private property, with no "public access" to the lake waters.