English and Scientific names:

Red-footed Booby

Sula sula

Number of individuals: 

one; probable subadult (worn Basic II?; plumage/molts
apparently not well known)

Locality: LOUISIANA: 

Cameron Parish

Specific Locality:

3 mi. W old mouth Mermentau River ("Rutherford Beach")

Date(s) when observed:

26 April 2008

Time(s) of day when observed:  

12:55 PM

Reporting observer and address:

Donna L. Dittmann

Other observers accompanying reporter who also identified the bird(s):


Steven W. Cardiff

Other observers who independently identified the bird(s):

Likely same bird observed 55
minutes earlier along Holly Beach by Phillip Wallace and Curt

Light conditions (position of bird in relation to shade and to direction and amount of light):

overcast, but generally very good (especially
for photograph)

Optical equipment: 

Briefly with naked eye, a few moments with 10 X 42 Leica; switched to Nikon D-80 camera with 70-300 mm lens, then
briefly back to binoculars

Distance to bird(s): 

I first spotted the bird as it approached from west not that far up the beach, then flew past observer to within 50 ft.

Duration of observation:

Very brief observation: I looked
at the bird initially for about 1-2 sec from inside the vehicle, then jumped out and attempted to photograph it as it approached and passed the vehicle, got one photograph but couldn't keep up with it to get another shot (blocked
in part by vehicle), dropped my camera but was only able to get another brief look with my binoculars.


Flying along the shoreline of Rutherford Beach.

Behavior of bird: 

When I got the bird in my binoculars I
knew it was a sulid by its general shape (long wings, deep wing beats and flight pattern) and initially thought gannet because of the white head and underparts and brown mantle and wings as it approached....so I jumped out of
the car to get a picture as it passed. But, as it passed the vehicle it was obvious that it was a much smaller, more delicate bird than a gannet.


Dark brown back, rump, and wings, primaries and
secondaries; greater upper secondary wing coverts somewhat grayer.  Light whitish mottling on upper wing coverts. Tail brown with tip paler (worn).
Head, neck, and underparts, including much of underwings dirty white, head with golden cast. Bill pinkish-purple with a darker tip. Eyes appeared dark.
Legs reddish-orange. This individual was marked: black tape on each leg, right leg with pale green streamer (streamer clearly visible in photograph).



Similar species:

Only similar species is Northern Gannet, which is much larger and heavier bodied, and has a different gular patch (=pointed), mostly gray legs, and more uniformly
darker bill at corresponding age.

Photographs or tape recordings obtained?

One digital-attached by DLD.

Previous experience with this species: 

Have seen many in Hawaii (two trips), Midway Island, Johnston Atoll (one trip each) - but
none in quite this plumage.

Identification aids:

Checked BNA account for

This description is written from: 

memory and photograph...

Are you positive of your identification? If not, explain: 




Donna L. Dittmann

Date and time: 

6 May 2008