Booby makes rare appearance locally


    Photo by TYRA FOX
    NOT A “BOOBY” TRAP … This bird, pictured
    in the Caney Creek area of Dierks Lake, has
    been positively identified as a Brown Booby by
    Dr. Dan Scheiman of the Arkansas Audubon
    Society. Brown Boobies are not common
    to Southwest Arkansas. The bird is the fifth
    recorded ever in the state of Arkansas.

    Nicole Tracy
    DIERKS — An unusual bird to the area was
    spotted in the Caney Creek area of Dierks
    Lake on November 3. The Brown Booby
    (Sula leucogaster) is a seabird native to
    tropical coastal waters. It is unknown how
    exactly it ended up in Southwest Arkansas.
    Mary and James Harris spotted the bird
    while out camping on Dierks Lake. The
    Harrises made contact with Dr. Dan Scheiman,
    Bird Conservation Director for the
    Audubon Society in Arkansas to report it.
    This is the fifth confirmed sighting of
    a Brown Booby in Arkansas. Other sightings
    have been made in Saline, Garland,
    Ouachita, and St. Francis counties, in the
    years 2012 and 2013.
    The bird has become a minor celebrity
    in it’s own right, drawing people in from
    all over the country to see it. “There have
    been people from as far away as Kansas,
    Memphis, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Texas
    so far to see it.” said Mary Harris.
    Hurricane Patricia affected the areas
    where the Brown Booby are generally
    found on October 23.
    Dr. Scheiman stated that
    “This species is an excellent
    flier, and individuals can
    range hundreds to thousands
    of miles from breeding
    colonies. Why it sometimes
    wanders inland, I’m not sure.
    Perhaps it is looking for new
    places to feed? I don’t think
    weather events explain it,
    though hurricanes definitely
    are responsible for bringing
    other seabirds inland.”
    Exactly why the Brown
    Booby is at Dierks Lake may
    never be answered, but it is
    without a doubt a rare occurrence
    for Howard County.
    “Most of the time, when
    seabirds occur inland, they
    stick around for a day to
    a few weeks before disappearing,
    presumably trying
    to make their way back to
    where they came from, or
    find better places to feed.