FAIRFIELD — There’s a unique guest at the International Bird Rescue Center.
Affectionately called a “she,” the staff is trying to figure out how a brown booby made its way to Northern California, surfacing on a beach in Inverness.
The gull-like tropical diving bird calls the coasts of Central America home. Some will venture to Southern California and Florida.
Martinez resident Patricia Vader found the bird on Dec. 26 while walking at Point Reyes. The bird wasn’t there when she, her husband and dogs started their hike. When they returned, she spotted it about 10 feet from the water.
“It looked like it was not well,” Patricia Vader said. “I stopped and watched it. It wasn’t moving.”
She approached the bird and discovered it could not fly and had difficulty walking. Vader wrapped the bird in a towel and transported it to a veterinarian. She was then referred to WildCare, a San Rafael facility that treats injured wildlife.
Two days later it was transported to the International Bird Rescue Center on Cordelia Road. It’s one of two International Bird Rescue Centers in California; the other is in Los Angeles.
It’s the first time Michelle Bellizzi, center manager, has met a brown booby.
“They’re not usually found off the coast here,” she said. “Not generally this far north.”
Vader can only speculate on why the bird came so far north. She thinks it may be the warm weather.
Center staff have arbitrarily decided it’s a female. Bellizzi believes its juvenile bird.
The bird’s main job is to put on weight. She came into the center weighing about 850 grams, Bellizzi said. As of Monday, the brown booby had put gained almost 500 grams. Her diet includes smelt and sardines and she eats on demand.
“We had to force feed her the first few days,” Bellizzi said.
The bird has developed a sense of strong ownership over her food. One of the pelicans she shares a cage with her tried to eat the food.
“She took umbrage and tried to eat the pelican,” Bellizzi said.
Staff at the center are “cautiously optimistic” the bird will fully recover, Bellizzi said. X-rays have been done and no broken bones were found.
Blood work is next.
“She was really anemic when she came in,” Bellizzi said.
The guest is getting a lot of attention. “We think it’s so cool because we’re a bunch of bird nerds,” Bellizzi said.
The bird’s progress can be followed at www./blog.bird-rescue.org/index.php/2013/12/patient-of-the-week-brown-booby.
Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.