People from across Indiana and surrounding states are flocking to Spring Mill State Park to get what might be a once-in-a-lifetime look at a single brown bird that's normally found in tropical oceans.

A juvenile brown booby was discovered in the lake at Spring Mill State Park in Mitchell on Monday by the park's interpretive naturalist Wade LaHue. No one knows how long it will remain, so many birders are quickly changing plans to get a glimpse of what would be a "life bird," or the first of that species they've ever seen.

On Friday morning, state assistant ornithologist Amy Kearns was at the park watching both the bird and the visitors who could easily see it from the nature center, along the shore of the lake or on the floating dock.

"A bunch of people are enjoying it right now," Kearns said, adding although it has people watching it, the bird doesn't seem concerned. People are asked to keep a distance to ensure the bird isn't frightened and has time to rest. After all, Kearns said, "It’s taken a really long journey to get to Indiana."

"This is never going to happen at Spring Mill State Park again," Kearns said, explaining that the seabird with webbed feet is only the second brown booby to ever have been seen in Indiana. The first was in May 2019 on a private lake in Zionsville and was seen by only two people before it left a day later.

A special place for a rare bird

Most brown boobies are spotted in tropical oceans by people on a boat trying to look from a distance. The bird at Spring Mill State Park can easily been seen from the shoreline or nature center and with binoculars or spotting scopes quite well. It's not an adult, so the coloring, including its yellow feet, isn't as pronounced.

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