The Red-footed Booby is a large marine species which lives
in tropical and subtropical islands around the world. At 71cms, it is the
smallest of all boobies. Red-footed boobies come in various colour morphs.
The bird in the image above displays the white morph where the plumage is
mostly white with black flight feathers.
Red-footed boobies nest colonially in small trees and shrubs,
unlike most other ground-nesting boobies. The name 'booby' is derived from the
slang for stupid, a trait which allowed them to be captured while asleep.
India has records of 3 booby species. Of these the Red-footed
is least recorded. Pamela Rasmussen in Birds of South Asia (Vol-II, page 51)
describes the occurrence of "One specimen Bay of Bengal, and old uncertain
sight report of a flock, Lakshadweep". Birdlife International 2009, however,
describes them as 'native' to India and elsewhere.
Unless there are other unpublished records, this sighting
represents the 1st physical record of the species from mainland India.
Threat status: Least Concern
Name: Red-footed Booby
Scientific name: Sula sula
Date: 11th May 2011
Place: New Digha, West Bengal, India.
Lat/Lon: 21° 37.012'N / 87°
Reported by: Various people where involved in reporting this species to
us. The list is as under:
Shashank Dalvi: Sent the initial report to Birds of
India having received the news from Hari Sridhar.
Dr. Anindita Bhadra of IISER, Kolkata: Dr Bhadra
sent out a request for identification after receiving a mail from Suman Karmakar
and Soumen Ghosh, both of Digha Science Centre & National Sc. Camp, New Digha,
West Bengal, India.
Suman Karmakar and Soumen Ghosh: The rescued bird
was photographed by Mr. Karmakar and sent out for identification by Mr. Ghosh.
Collection record: Dr. Bhadra, in her mail dated 12/5/2011 mentions the
collection details, and I quote: "I have received this image from a friend at
the Digha Science Centre. Digha is a small sea-side town in West Bengal. A
policeman brought them this bird yesterday. They had found it somewhere in the
town. The bird looks like a chick, probably of some migratory bird. It just sits
wherever it is put, does not show any interest to go towards the water (they
have a tank for ducks at the Centre). It eats only if some fish is put inside
its beak. They would be glad if someone can identify the bird and tell them what
to do with it. Can anyone help?". By the time a response could be sent, the bird
Additional notes: 1.
David James, an Ornithologist, and expert on birds of Christmas Island had
this to add: "The booby looks like an
adult female, based on bareparts colours. The extent of golden tint to the
head and neck and especially the rear scapulars may indicate that the bird
originates from Christmas Island, though I'm not sure how golden the white
morph can be in other locations in the Indian Ocean."
[Pers comm email dated 18/7/11]
2. It appears that the weather in the northern
Indian Ocean was normal around the time of the recovery.
1. Suman Karmakar and Soumen Ghosh
of Digha Science Centre for sharing the report and the image
2. Dr. Anindita Bhadra of IISER for reporting the bird and sharing vital
3. Shashank Dalvi and Hari Sridhar for passing on the information to us.
4. Birds of South Asia - The Ripley Guide ~ Pamela C. Rasmussen
5. Birdlife International
Red-footed Booby page
of India (http://www.kolkatabirds.com): Red-footed Booby - a
rare vagrant 2011 at
S. Karmakar, S. Ghosh, Dr. A. Bhadra & S. Sen