Blue-footed Booby

Sula nebouxii

The Blue-footed Booby is a marine bird in the family Sulidae, which includes ten species of long-winged seabirds. Blue-footed boobies belong to the genus ''Sula'', which comprises six species of boobies. It is easily recognizable by its distinctive bright blue feet, which is a sexually selected trait. Males display their feet in an elaborate mating ritual by lifting their feet up and down while strutting before the female. The female is slightly larger than the male and can measure up to 90 cm long with a wingspan of up to 1.5 m .

The natural breeding habitats of the Blue-footed Booby are the tropical and subtropical islands of the Pacific Ocean. It can be found from the Gulf of California down along the western coasts of Central and South America down to Peru. Approximately one half of all breeding pairs nest on the Galápagos Islands. Its diet mainly consists of fish, which it obtains by diving and sometimes swimming underwater in search of its prey. While it sometimes hunts alone, the Blue-footed Booby mainly hunts in groups.

The Blue-footed Booby usually lays one to three eggs at a time. The species practices asynchronous hatching, which means that eggs that are laid first are hatched before the consequent eggs, resulting in a growth inequality and size disparity between siblings. This results in facultative siblicide in times of food scarcity, making the Blue-footed Booby an effective model for studying parent-offspring conflict and sibling rivalry.
Blue-footed Booby - Sula nebouxii The Blue-Footed Booby - Sula nebouxii, is a marine bird in the family Sulidae, which includes ten species of long-winged seabirds. Blue-footed boobies belong to the genus Sula, which comprises six species of boobies. It is easily recognizable by its distinctive bright blue feet, which is a sexually selected trait. Males display their feet in an elaborate mating ritual by lifting their feet up and down while strutting before the female. The female is slightly larger than the male and can measure up to 90 cm (35 in) long with a wingspan of up to 1.5 m (4.9 ft) Blue-footed Booby,Ecuador,Galápagos Islands,Geotagged,Sula nebouxii,Winter

Appearance

The Blue-footed Booby is on average 81 cm long and weighs 1.5 kg , with the female being slightly larger than the male. Its wings are long and pointed, and are brown in color. The neck and head of the Blue-footed Booby are light brown with white streaks while the belly and underside exhibit pure white plumage. Its eyes are placed on either side of its bill and oriented towards the front, enabling excellent binocular vision. Its eyes are a distinctive yellow, with the male having more yellow in its irises than the female. Blue-footed Booby chicks have black beaks and feet and are clad in a layer of soft white down.

Since the Blue-footed Booby frequently obtains fish by diving headlong into the water, it has permanently closed nostrils for this purpose, necessitating breathing through the corners of its mouth. Its most notable characteristic are its blue-colored feet, which can range in color from a pale turquoise to a deep aquamarine. Males and younger birds have lighter feet while females have darker feet. Its blue feet play a key role in courtship rituals and breeding, with the male visually displaying its feet to attract mates during the breeding season.
A Quick Peck Two blue footed boobies standing atop some rocks socializing. Blue-footed Booby,Sula nebouxii,beach,bird,blue,galapagos,island,ocean,rocks,seabirds,shore,sky,waterbirds,white

Distribution

The Blue-footed Booby is distributed among the continental coasts of the eastern Pacific Ocean from California to the Galápagos Islands down into Peru. It is strictly a marine bird. Its only need for land is to breed and rear young, which it does along the rocky coasts of the eastern Pacific.

A Booby may use and defend two or three nesting sites, which consist of bare black lava in small divots in the ground, until they develop a preference for one a few weeks before the eggs are laid. These nests are created as parts of large colonies. While nesting, the female will turn to face the sun throughout the day, so the nest is surrounded by excretion.
Blue-footed Booby Isla Española, Galapagos, Ecuador (2005).
81 cm long and 1.5 kg. Amazing to see them fish. They bullet rocket toward the water and close their wings only when almost hitting it. Their name of course comes from the color of their feet and because of them being very tame. Blue-footed Booby,Ecuador,Geotagged,Sula nebouxii

Behavior

Blue-footed Boobies make raucous or polysyllabic grunts or shouts and thin whistling noises. The males of the species have been known to throw up their head and whistle at a passing, flying female. Their ritual displays are also a form of communication.

Mates can recognize each other by their calls. Researchers have analysed calls of Blue-footed Boobies and conducted playback experiments. Although calls differed between sexes, unique individual signatures were present. It was found that both males and females can discriminate the calls of their mates from others.
Blue-Footed Booby and Brown Pelican  Blue-footed Booby,Brown Pelican,Galápagos Islands,Sula nebouxii,birds,wildlife

Habitat

The Blue-footed Booby is distributed among the continental coasts of the eastern Pacific Ocean from California to the Galápagos Islands down into Peru. It is strictly a marine bird. Its only need for land is to breed and rear young, which it does along the rocky coasts of the eastern Pacific.

A Booby may use and defend two or three nesting sites, which consist of bare black lava in small divots in the ground, until they develop a preference for one a few weeks before the eggs are laid. These nests are created as parts of large colonies. While nesting, the female will turn to face the sun throughout the day, so the nest is surrounded by excretion.
Blue On Blue  Blue-footed Booby,Ecuador,Galápagos Islands,Geotagged,Sula nebouxii,Summer

Reproduction

The Blue-footed Booby is monogamous, although it has the potential to be bigamous. It is an opportunistic breeder, with the breeding cycle occurring every 8 to 9 months. The courtship of the Blue-footed Booby consists of the male flaunting his blue feet and dancing to impress the female. The male begins by showing his feet, strutting in front of the female. Then, he presents nest materials and finishes the mating ritual with a final display of his feet. The dance also includes "sky-pointing," which involves the male pointing his head and bill up to the sky while keeping the wings and tail raised.The Blue-footed Booby lays one to three eggs in one nest at a time, although 80% of nests only contain two eggs. Eggs are laid five days apart. After the first egg is laid, it is immediately incubated, which results in a difference in chick hatching times. The first chick hatches four days before the other, so it receives a four-day head start in growth compared to its younger sibling. This asynchronous hatching serves many purposes. First, it spaces out the difficult time period in rearing during which newborn chicks are too feeble to accept regurgitated food. In addition, it reduces the chance that parents will suffer total brood loss to predators such as the milk snake.

Experiments have shown that asynchronous hatching may also reduce sibling rivalry. Experimentally-manipulated synchronous broods produced more aggressive chicks; chicks in asynchronous broods were less violent. This pattern of behavior arguably occurs through a clearly established brood hierarchy in asynchronously hatched siblings. Although asynchronous hatching is not vital for the formation of brood hierarchies , it does aid in efficient brood reduction when food levels are low. Subordinate chicks in asynchronous broods die more quickly, thus relieving the parents of the burden of feeding both offspring when resources are insufficient to properly do so.

Food

The Blue-footed Booby's diet consists mainly of fish. It is a specialized fish eater, feeding on small school fish such as sardines, anchovies, mackerel, and flying fish. It also feeds on squid and offal. The Blue-footed Booby dives into the ocean, sometimes from a great height, and can swim underwater in pursuit of its prey. It hunts singly, in pairs, or in larger flocks. Boobies travel in parties of about 12 to areas of water with large schools of small fish. When the lead bird sees a fish shoal in the water, it will signal to the rest of the group and they will all dive in unison, pointing their bodies down like arrows.

Plunge diving can be done from heights of 10–30.5 m and even up to 100 m . These birds hit the water around 97 km/h and can go to depths of 25 m below the water surface. Its skulls contain special air sacs that protect the brain from enormous pressure. Prey are usually eaten while the birds are still underwater. Surprisingly, individuals prefer to eat on their own instead of with their hunting group, usually in the early morning or late afternoon. Males and females fish differently, which may contribute to why Blue-foots, unlike other boobies, raise more than one young. The male is smaller and has a proportionally larger tail, which enables the male to fish in shallow areas as well as deep waters. The female is larger and can carry more food. Both the male and female feed the chicks through regurgitation.

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Status: Least concern
EX EW CR EN VU NT LC
Taxonomy
KingdomAnimalia
DivisionChordata
ClassAves
OrderSuliformes
FamilySulidae
GenusSula
SpeciesSula nebouxii
Photographed in
Ecuador