Seabird species settles on the Channel Islands. Photo by Andrew Yamagiwa
Recently seabird biologists discovered Brown Boobies actively nesting on Santa Barbara Island, within Channel Islands National Park. This first record of Brown Boobies nesting in the park signifies a significant northward expansion of their breeding range.
During a survey on November 3, 2017, biologists observed four nests and 102 individual birds on Sutil Island off the southwest end of Santa Barbara Island, the smallest island in the park. The adult birds appeared to be incubating eggs or possibly tending to small young on the four nests.
“This discovery, once again, demonstrates the importance of the Channel Islands as critical seabird habitat,” said Channel Islands National Park Superintendent Russell Galipeau.
Brown Boobies, generally considered a tropical or subtropical bird, appear to have been extending their range northward since the 1990s when they first migrated to the Coronado Islands of Baja California from the Gulf of California and Pacific coast of Mexico.
An impressive seabird species they are known for making spectacular plunge dives from heights of up to 50 feet to feed on surface fish. They nest on islands, laying their eggs on the bare ground, and making nests with sticks, rocks, bones, and vegetation to protect them. They winter far out to sea.