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Blue-Footed Booby Fact File

Sula nebouxii

Credit: Public Domain

Weight

1.3-1.8kg

(2.7)

Length

83cm

(33in)

Lifespan

Wild 17 years

Captive 17 years

Diet

Carnivores

Fish

Conservation Status

IUCN

Least Concern

The Most Stylish Shoes in the Animal Kingdom!

The blue-footed booby is aptly named for their webbed, blue feet. These are used by males as part of their mating display and males with brighter colored feet have better mating success.

They are carnivores and dive in to the sea to grab fish and squid.

Much of their time is spent out at sea. They will dive headfirst in the water and their body is well adapted to allow for this without injury.

This species has been experiencing sharp declines as a result of decreases in their available prey.

Read on to learn more about these brilliant birds.

Appearance

What does the Blue-Footed Booby look like?

The blue-footed booby is suitably named for its bright blue feet which feature prominent webbing between them.


Their body is colored brown across the wings, brown and white across the head and white on the underside. A black patch is present around the eyes and bill.


Their bill is colored black. The eye is large and described as star-shaped. The iris is bright yellow with a black pupil.


An average blue-footed booby will measure 83cm (33in) long with a weight between 1.3 and 1.8kg (2.75 and 4lbs). Their wingspan is up to 158cm (62.2in) across. Females tend to be slightly larger than males.

Adaptations

How does the Blue-Footed Booby survive in its habitat?


Their beak is spear like and has serrated edges which help them to maintain a grip on their prey which is often wriggling as they attempt to swallow it.


The beak of the blue-footed booby is permanently sealed shut which will prevent water entry when they dive in to the water at high speed. As a result they must breathe through their mouth.


An air sac is present in the skull. This prevents injury from impact as they enter the water.

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Diet

What does the Blue-Footed Booby eat?

The blue-footed booby is a carnivore. They will feed on fish such as sardines and squid.


They will hang around fishing boats to gather any scraps which may be tossed aside.


While fishing they may associate with dolphins and other species of booby.

Learn more about the Blue-Footed Booby in this video from NAT GEO WILD on YouTube

Range

Where do you find the Blue-Footed Booby?

North, Central and South America is the native home of the blue-footed booby. Here they can be found in Chile; Colombia; Costa Rica; Ecuador (Galápagos); El Salvador; Guatemala; Honduras; Mexico; Nicaragua; Panama; Peru and the United States.

Habitat

Where can the Blue-Footed Booby survive?

These birds are a marine species. They make use of areas of cool sea water where they can hunt for their prey.

Blue-Footed Booby (Sula nebouxii)

Credit: Public Domain

Reproduction

How does the Blue-Footed Booby produce its young?

Males will use their bright blue feet to impress a potential mate. This is enhanced by pigments within the fish they consume. As the color comes from their food a brighter colored male will indicate that he can be a good provided for his family.


The color declines with age meaning younger males have better breeding opportunities.


Once pairs form the male and female will circle one another while whistling and honking.


Their nest is formed on a cliff with little or no vegetation period.


Females will deposit between two and three eggs a few days apart. When food is plentiful all of the young will be raised but when it is scarce the parents will focus on the eldest one. Males bring food to the female throughout the incubation period.


During incubation they will use their oversized feet to keep the egg warm. They are incubated for 41 to 45 days.


Sexual maturity is reached at one year old.

Behavior

What does the Blue-Footed Booby do during its day?

Much of their year is spent at sea.


When they become too warm they will open their mouth and flutter the skin on their skin.


While seeking out food these birds may form flocks. These can grow to include up to 200 birds. As a a large group they will dive in to groups of schooling fish and seek to obtain some of the fish there.

As they dive in to the water they may reach speeds of up to 90km/h (60mph).

Blue-Footed Booby (Sula nebouxii)

Credit: Public Domain

Predators and Threats

What stops the Blue-Footed Booby from surviving and thriving?

Natural predators of this species include birds of prey such as the Galapagos hawk.

Populations of the blue-footed booby appear to be in decline. The total population is estimated at 90,000 individuals.


The largest factor in their decline has been declines in available prey across their range. When less food is available this species will produce less young. This decline is ongoing and will not be stopped until populations of fish return.

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Quick facts

The name, booby is taken from a Spanish word bobo which translates as 'stupid.' They were given this name due to their clumsy nature on land.

Blue-Footed Booby (Sula nebouxii)

Credit: Public Domain

References

Cossins, J., 2021. Book of curious birds. 1st ed. Sydney: Hachette Australia.

Christiansen, P., 2019. Birds. London: Amber Books Ltd.

Alderton, D. and Barrett, P., 2019. The complete illustrated encyclopedia of birds of the world. Lorenz Books.

BirdLife International. 2021. Sula nebouxiiThe IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2021: e.T22696683A168988087. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2021-3.RLTS.T22696683A168988087.en. Accessed on 09 January 2022.

Oceana. 2022. Blue-footed Booby. [online] Available at: <https://oceana.org/marine-life/blue-footed-booby/> [Accessed 9 January 2022].

Smithsonian Ocean. 2022. Blue-footed Booby. [online] Available at: <https://ocean.si.edu/ocean-life/seabirds/blue-footed-booby> [Accessed 9 January 2022].

Go Galapagos. 2022. Blue-Footed Booby – Go Galapagos. [online] Available at: <https://www.gogalapagos.com/animal-specie/blue-footed-booby/> [Accessed 9 January 2022].

Nhpbs.org. 2022. Blue-footed Booby – Sula nebouxii – NatureWorks. [online] Available at: <https://nhpbs.org/natureworks/bluebooby.htm> [Accessed 9 January 2022].

Aurora Expeditions™. 2022. Facts About The Blue-Footed Booby – Aurora Expeditions™. [online] Available at: <https://www.auroraexpeditions.com.au/blog/wildlife-fact-file-blue-footed-booby/> [Accessed 9 January 2022].

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