Masked Booby
Dana Point Harbor, Orange County, CA
29 March 2002
Joseph Morlan

Photos © 2002 by Dan Lockshaw
Today Robbie Fischer and I decided to check the end of the outer jetty at Dana Point Harbor in hopes of seeing the Masked Booby which had been present there since 10 February 2002 when it was found by Christina Maranto on a whale watching trip organized by Dr. George Hunt. It wasn't there on our arrival, but we checked back about an hour and half later and it was present and easily seen among the gulls and Pelicans on the jetty. The following description is based on notes taken while watching the bird through a scope:

A large white booby about the size of adjacent Western Gulls with black wings and tail.

The bill was massive and conical in shape, dull yellow in color. The body was mostly white with faint brown streaking on the forehead and nape and dingy blotches on the side of the head. There was also extensive brown mottling on the back, visible when the bird turned and preened.

The facial skin at the base of the bill was dark, surrounding pale looking eyes. The forehead feathering cut straight across the top of the bill and did not extend far in front of the eye. Likewise the maxillary feathering did not extend forward of the eyes.

The wings and tail were black, but the upper lesser wing coverts were extensively contrasting white. The tertials appeared black when the bird preened. The tail coverts and rump were white contrasting with the black tail and brown mottled back. The bird stretched its wings a few times showing the underwings which were mostly white with brown mottling.

The legs were gray, but the feet were not seen because they were hidden behind a rock.


Additional photos by Maya Decker have been posted on my photo gallery here.

This is likely the same bird seen earlier in the year at LaJolla Cove. Detailed photos seems to show the same pattern of wear and foot injury between the two birds although molt has resulted in a slightly whiter plumage now. Click here for details and photos of that bird.

This is a different individual from the one released from rehabilitation which has also been seen in the area. That bird can be further distinguished by a red band on its left foot.