Booby off Coal Oil Point

David Levasheff

This am a group of us birded from IV to the Snowy Plover area at COPR.

About half way along the beach from the Steps to The point Ron Hirst spotted a Booby out over the ocean at the edge of the kelp beds near a fishing boat.

I got some photos and we determined it was likely a Masked/Nazca type Booby. Dave Compton reviewed the photos and advised that statistically it is likely a Nazca Booby. The photos do not have enough definition to definitively tell what the bill color is, sometimes it has an orange cast others more greenish/yellow.

Photos are posted on my flickr page

Input feedback welcome.

The last I saw the bird it was heading east, though Ron indicated west; he may have been on it longer that I.

Including Dave Compton's response to my query.

Hi David,

Nice effort, but I'm guessing the bird was not that close in. It's hard to tell bill color here, but I think it looks orangish in some photos, but might look a bit yellow in others. The upper parts look very white, but I can't tell if the same is true of the underparts. The significance is that a full adult won't have any dusky smudges within the white areas on the body, and a full adult should be identifiable by bill color (yellow for Masked, orangish for Nazca).

Nazca is now the more expected of these two species, by the way. It's no longer a CBRC review species, while Masked still is.

Can you please post to SB Co Birding? I've cc'd some other folks who might be interested. From what Ron tells me, the bird flew west, right? I would think about places up the coast this bird could be roosting. It may be too early in the year for it to roost at Bird Island (off Sandpiper GC), which might still be crammed full of young cormorants. But that spot could be worth a look. And I would think of other rocky places it might go to roost on shore. Unfortunately, most of those farther west aren't very accessible.

Nice find, guys!


David Levasheff
Santa Barbara

Ron Hirst

Hi,  The best views were had by Peter Thompson with his 77mm flourite scope. He leaned towards yellowish bill and commented also on the stark whiteness of the bird with no smudging. The whiteness of the head and upperparts and forewing underneath make it an adult. It also dramatically plunge dived from 30-50 ft. at least a few times. A couple people said it headed upcoast. Other birds seen this morning on the walk from Isla Vista to Coal Oil Pt. included an Osprey, a Peregrine sitting on a log inside the Snowy Plover fenced habitat, herons and egrets, and numerous large and small peeps and plovers. Ron Hirst, SB