VICTORIA - An unlikely visitor to Vancouver Island is recovering at an animal rescue centre after being found, shivering and injured, on the Victoria waterfront.
The female brown booby is receiving treatment while staff at the British Columbia SPCA's wild animal rehabilitation centre try to figure out how the tropical bird travelled far north of its usual territory.
Centre spokeswoman Marguerite Sans said there's very little research on migration of the brown booby, but the seabirds have been known to travel up to 3,000 kilometres.
"Because we know so little about them, it's not too clear why they might appear this far (north) but I think it might be a combination of this individual going further up the coast and then perhaps storm or weather patterns pushed her up further," Sans said.
A powerful storm packing moisture from east of Hawaii lashed the B.C. coast in the days before the bird was found.
When the booby, believed to a young adult, was found Monday it was very ill, suffering from a small puncture to its chest, injuries and abrasions to its feet and was underweight.
"Based on her blood work and how thin she is, we are pretty guarded as far as her prognosis because when they get that emaciated they are pretty critical," Sans said.
The bird is too weak to eat whole food so it is on a special diet that will keep its organs from shutting down.
Sans said it could take several days before the lethargic bird responds, and even longer before plans can be made for its release.
"If we can get her past the tough part, we have to see," she said.
"With any seabird species we need them to be in excellent body condition and then also have pristine feathers so that their waterproofing is 100 per cent before they are released."
The brown booby is a large seabird, with a wing span of nearly 1.5-metres and is identified by a solid brown head, neck, back and wings, with a white chest and lower body and a yellow beak.
The bird is usually spotted in Mexico, California and Hawaii where it's renowned for dramatic 20 metre plunges into the sea to catch seafood such as squid and anchovies.
Sans said it was the first time the centre has cared for one of these seabirds, and staff are mulling the logistics of how to get it further south, if that's determined to be the safest way to release the bird when the time comes.