Red-footed Booby

Red-footed Booby, Photo courtesy of Andy Bankert

Andy, Alex and I walk across the
concrete floor which is covered in slippery pelican excrement. We peer into cages
along either side of the walkway and view an assortment of injured birds
undergoing rehabilitation: Magnificent Frigatebird, Masked Booby, Northern
Gannet, Wood Stork. A crowd of pelicans follows close on our heels, hoping for
a handout. Inside the cages are more pelicans. One of the employees at the
rehab center gives us a tour. He explains that most of the pelicans here are victims
of fishing nets and tackle. They are found with hooks embedded in their fleshy
pink legs or with their wings bound up in fishing line. Our target bird, a
Red-footed Booby released two weeks ago, perches outside one of the cages,
expecting to be fed. Rehabilitators now only feed the booby a single fish each
day, leaving the booby to fish on its own.

The ABA rules for counting birds (on a
life list or Big Day list) say captive birds are not countable, but released
birds are countable if they meet certain requirements: “
A bird is considered under the influence
of captivity after its release until it regains the activities and movements of
a bird which has not been captured.” The rules further clarify, “A bird is
under the influence of captivity during its initial flight away from its
release point and during subsequent activity reasonably influenced by the
captivity, such as initial perching and preening or early sleeping or roosting
near the release point.” On one hand, the booby is a wild bird. It was born in
the wild, found in the wild, and, if all goes well, will leave the vicinity of
the rehab center and be 100% wild (whatever that means) again.

            So what do you think? Would you
count this bird on your personal life list (or any list)…is this playing fair?