The curious blue footed booby is one of the most emblematic creatures of the Galapagos Islands, due to the peculiar blue color of its legs. Reason why this booby bird surely attracts the interest of tourists who want to take pictures from all angles!
Although blue footed boobies are not endemic to the Galapagos Islands, they are one of the most famous birds of the islands. These boobies are native to the tropical regions of the Pacific Ocean and are one of six species of boobies.
BLUE FOOTED BOOBY
Their name comes from the Spanish word “bobo”, which means foolish or clown, in reference to their clumsy movements on land and because of how tame they are. However, despite their clumsiness on the ground, blue-footed boobies are extremely agile in the air.
Early in the morning, they take flight in search of their prey. Once at sea, the booby folds its wings, giving it a more aerodynamic shape, and dives into the water. Dives can occur at more than 20 meters, and the bird hits the water at speeds of up to 100 km/h, catching fish with its serrated bill.
Blue boobies generally forage for food in large groups of up to 200 birds. Their preferred food is anchovies and sardines. But in recent years there has been a reduction of these fish, resulting in the decline of this booby specie.
In Galapagos, in the 1960s there were an estimated 20,000 birds, but by 2012 this number had been reduced to approximately 6,400. Nevertheless, boobies remain a fairly large population in Galapagos, and can be seen in several locations. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has classified this species in “Least Concern” status.
COMMON NAME: Blue-Footed Booby
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Sula nebouxii
GROUP NAME: Flock
AVERAGE LIFESPAN IN THE WILD: 17 years
SIZE: 32 to 34 inches; wingspan: nearly 5 feet
WEIGHT: 3.25 pounds
APPEARANCE: Its plumage is brown on top, with a white rump and black tail, while the underparts are white and its legs are uniquely blue.
BLUE BOOBY INTERESTING FACTS
- The unique color of boobies’ legs is due to the carotenoid pigments in their concentrated diet of sardines. Therefore, the color of their legs reflects their good health.
- Males and females are very similar, however females are slightly larger and have darker blue legs.
- In males, the brighter the blue color of the legs, the more reproductive success they can have.
- To reproduce, females select males with brighter feet, as they are an indicator of their general condition and, therefore, of the quality of their genes.
- Female boobies lay between two and three eggs per year. Both the female and the male take care of the nest for about 45 days and feed the chicks together, by regurgitation, for about two months.
- It breeds very locally, forming colonies on islands in the open sea, nesting on the ground.
- They breathe through the corners of their beaks, because their nostrils are permanently attached for diving.
BLUE FOOTED BOOBY BEHAVIOR
Mating of these boobies takes place in the cold months, between June and August. Their courtship ritual is undoubtedly one of the most fun to witness. The male begins by presenting a rock or branch to the female as a gift. He then tilts his beak, tail and wingtips skyward, whistles and marches around the female in a high-stepping motion, showing off his feet.
Blue-footed boobies are very tame and friendly birds, they are not afraid of humans, making them one of the most loved birds for visitors. But it is important to emphasize that even though they are tame, boobies are still wild birds. It is necessary to keep a distance of at least 1 meter.
WHERE TO SEE THEM?
Blue-footed boobies are one of the most common birds to see in the archipelago. One of the best sights to spot them are the North Seymour and Española islands. Here, visitors can get very close to them, as trails pass in front of the boobies’ nests, offering a unique experience to appreciate. Also is possible to see them in Fernandina, Floreana, Isabela and Santa Cruz islands.
These cutest birds are waiting for you! Come on one of our tours and get to know all the wonders of the Galapagos Islands and don’t miss the opportunity to take a great picture with the blue-footed booby!