English and Scientific names:

Red-footed Booby (Sula sula)

Number of individuals: 

1 subadult light morph bird

Locality: LOUISIANA: 


Specific Locality:

Holly Beach

Date(s) when observed:

April 26, 2008

Time(s) of day when observed:  

~11:55 a.m.-12:01 p.m.

Reporting observer and address:

Phillip Wallace

New Orleans, LA

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


Curt Sorrells

Other observers who independently identified the bird(s):

Steve Cardiff and Donna Dittmann

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

Good; bird was initially overhead as Wallace and Sorrells were parked along the edge of Hwy. 82 at Holly Beach; then seen flying east along the beach.

Optical equipment: 

Naked eye, Cannon GL2 Camcorder

Distance to bird(s): 

10-75 m

Duration of observation:

5-6 minutes


Beach at edge of Gulf of Mexico

Behavior of bird: 

Flying, shearing close to surface of the Gulf, wheeling back over the Gulf, and generally heading east.


Booby shape (pointed at both ends). Size hard to judge, since I'm not accustomed to seeing sulids up close, but appeared small. In one still grabbed from the video, a Caspian Tern appears to be approximately 2/3 the size of the booby. Long, narrow wings had swept-back look when bird was gliding. Underside of wings was dark brown. Upper surface of wings showed dark brown flight feathers contrasting with paler brown coverts. Head, neck, and underparts were whitish, with a little golden/brownish coloration showing on the head and neck in some shots. Back was brown contrasting with whitish neck. Bill appears to be pale grayish in video. Tail appeared brown from above and below. Primaries showed wear and possible molt.



Similar species:

Contrast of upperwing pattern and all dark underwing indicate this species. Bill color on Dittmann photo shows diagnostic grayish bill color with pink tones at the base.

Photographs or tape recordings obtained?

Stills grabbed from video by Wallace accompany this report. Full video will be submitted to LBRC.

Previous experience with this species: 

None. I've seen numerous gannets, several Masked Boobies, and one Brown Booby.

Identification aids:


Harrison's "Seabirds" and photographic guide to seabirds.

This description is written from: 

Notes written at 11:00 p.m. on April 26, study of video and Dittmann's photo.

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




Phillip Wallace

Date and time: 

June 1, 2008 12:45 p.m.