Blue-footed Booby (Sula nebouxii)


Class: Aves
Order: Pelecaniformes
Family:    Sulidae
Size:    Length: 30 to 33 inches (76 to 83 cm)  Wingspan: 60 inches (150 cm)
Weight: 3 to 4 pounds (1.3 to 1.8 kg)
Diet: Fish, especially anchovies
Distribution: West coast of Central and South America
Young:  2 to 3 chicks, once a year
Animal Predators:  Unknown
IUCN Status: No special status
Terms: Young: Chick
Lifespan: 15 to 20 years in the wild



·     The booby’s favourite food is anchovies.

·     The blue-footed booby is about the size of a goose.

·     If there is a food shortage, boobies feed their largest chick first, to ensure its survival.



Blue-footed boobies have bright blue feet, a long black tapering bill, brown feathers on their wings, tail and back, and white feathers on their head and undersides. Males are slightly smaller than females. 



Blue-footed boobies can be found throughout the Gulf of California, along the west coast of Mexico south to northern Peru, and on the Galapagos Islands.


Feeding Habits

They spend almost all of their time hunting for fish at sea, and appear clumsy when on land. While hunting, boobies fly over the water and hurl themselves into the water from heights of up to 80 feet (24 m). Boobies enter the water on an angle and resurface eight to 10 feet (2.4 to 3 m) away with a fish in their bill. The bill has serrated edges to enable it to grasp slippery, struggling fish. Boobies are able to judge when a flying fish is about to leave the water and can catch it in midair.



Blue-footed boobies have a unique courtship display. The male will strut back and forth in front of the female, showing off his blue feet in a high-stepping walk. He then may fly up in the air so the female can have an even better look at his feet. It is thought that the brighter a male’s feet, the more attractive he is to females. Both the male and female point their bills to the sky, and the male whistles as he spreads his wings, while the female tucks her head under her wing. After mating, the female lays eggs in a shallow depression on bare ground and the male and female take turns incubating them. They use their feet, which have an increased blood supply, to keep the eggs warm. The pale blue eggs hatch in 41 to 45 days, and the parents will then keep the babies on top of their feet to brood them for the next month. The male takes care of the hunting and brings back food to the female and to the chicks, who need to be fed constantly. The chicks feed by pushing their bills inside their parents’ mouths to get the regurgitated fish. After the first month, the parents begin to teach their youngsters to fly and fish. They become fully independent within two months. 



Blue-footed boobies received their name from Spanish sailors, who called them “bobo,” meaning clown, because of their comical personalities and looks. Unlike most other wild animals, boobies have no fear of humans and are very curious. They have been known to land right on a ship in order to have a look around. They are fairly sociable birds that hunt in flocks, but prefer to eat alone, and like to have plenty of space around their nests. Unlike other boobies, blue-footed boobies can dive from a position of floating or swimming on the surface of the water. Males do not dive as deep or as far offshore as the females.



Blue-footed boobies are legally protected in the Galapagos Islands.



Blue-footed Booby Wildlife Fact File, IM Pub, US

Harrison, C. and Greensmith, A. (1993). Birds of the World. London: Dorling Kindersley Limited