Status: Protected by law in the Galapagos Islands.
Size: Height 30 to 33 in., wingspan 5 ft., weight 3 to 4 lbs.
Characteristics: Outgoing, curious.
Area: West coast of Central and South America.
Offspring: 2 to 3 pale blue eggs.
· The diet of the blue-footed booby consists solely of fish.
· 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.
The booby received its name from Spanish sailors, who called it “bobo,” meaning clown, because of its comical personality and looks. Unlike most other wild animals, boobies have no fear of humans and will land right on a ship, in order to have a look around. Blue-footed boobies have bright blue feet, long black tapering bills and brown and white feathers. They spend almost all of their time at sea, hunting for fish, and appear clumsy when on land. While hunting, the booby flies over the water and hurls itself into the water from heights of up to 80 feet. The booby enters the water on an angle and comes up eight to ten feet away with a fish in its 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. They’re fairly sociable birds who hunt in flocks, but prefer to eat alone, and like to have plenty of space around their nests. Unlike other boobies, the blue-footed booby can dive from a position of floating or swimming on the surface of the water. Males are smaller and lighter and don’t dive as deep or as far offshore as the females.
The blue-footed booby can be found throughout the Gulf of California, along the west coast of Mexico south to northern Peru, and on the Galapagos Islands.
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’s thought that the brighter a male’s
feet, the more attractive he is to a female. 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 parents take turns incubating them.
They use their feet, which have an increased blood supply, to keep the eggs
warm. The 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 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. The blue-footed booby can live 15 to 20 years in