Red-footed booby seen at Muriwai
A red-footed booby has been sighted for the first time on New Zealand’s mainland.
The Sula sula is the smallest bird of the gannet and booby family and was spotted at Muriwai’s gannet colony on January 19 by Blair Outhwaite.
It has caused quite a stir amongst bird watchers as it is the second ever sighting recorded in New Zealand and the first on the mainland.
Last year, two red-footed boobies were sighted at the Kermadec Islands.
Te Papa bird expert Dr Colin Miskelly said this was a remarkable sighting at the time as the bird had never been recorded in New Zealand before.
‘‘To have one turn up on the mainland is just astonishing,’’ Miskelly said.
He said if the red-footed booby was regularly sighted at the Kermadec Islands, it would be expected that they would travel further south.
However, as they were sighted for the first time only last year, it is surprising that one has turned up so soon after and so far south, Miskelly said.
Although the red-footed booby is rare to New Zealand, it is a frequent sea bird to the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans.
It is not considered a threatened bird, but is vulnerable to disturbance and human predation, Miskelly said.
This is the first ever sighting of the red-footed booby on New Zealand’s mainland.