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Animals

Kidadl Team

AUGUST 06, 2021

Boobies (Blue-Footed Booby): 15 Facts You Won’t Believe!

Boobies are called so because of their clumsy behavior on land

Native to the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador, the blue-footed booby is an interesting marine bird. They are so-called because of their characteristic blue-colored feet. Blue-footed boobies are of the species Sula nebouxii, which is one of the six species of the Sula genus. All these six species of birds are called boobies, which is a name derived from the Spanish word ‘bobo’, meaning ‘stupid’ or ‘foolish’. They are called so because they are extremely clumsy on land, a lot like other marine birds.

There are two subspecies of the blue-footed booby. The Sula nebouxii is found in the Pacific coasts and coastal parts of America whereas the Sula nebouxii excisa is found in the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador, South America. These incredible birds hunt fishes in a spectacular diving manner. Fishes such as sea mackerel, sardines, and flying fish form the staple diet of the blue-footed booby. They also search and consume squids and offal. Blue-footed boobies also sometimes swim underwater to search for prey.

Boobies are mostly monogamous in nature. However, bigamy is also seen across some species and is not uncommon. The closest relative of the blue-footed booby is the Peruvian booby, which is known to produce guano.

You may also check out the fact files on the fox sparrow and the lark sparrow from Kidadl.

Boobies Interesting Facts

What type of animal are boobies?

A booby is a marine or sea bird.

What class of animals do boobies belong to?

Boobies belong to the class of Aves.

How many boobies are there in the world?

There are currently 80,000 blue-footed boobies in the world.

Where do boobies live?

Boobies are natives of the tropics. They are marine birds, dependent on oceanic animals for food. So the boobies birds live near the coasts of Galapagos, Mexico, and California.

What is a boobie's habitat?

The blue-footed boobies live in marine habitats and rest on the land at night. They are found in the coastal regions (mostly on the Pacific and Atlantic Coasts and the Galapagos Archipelago). They lay eggs on the rocky lava coasts of the Pacific Ocean.

Who do boobies live with?

Boobies mostly hunt alone but can also be found hunting in pairs or groups.

How long do boobies live?

Blue-footed boobies live up to 17 years.

How do they reproduce?

Boobies are monogamous in nature, although bigamy is also common. Foot pigmentation is an important factor when choosing mates among the blue-footed boobies. A dance is performed by the male booby as part of its mating rituals in which it shows off its brightly-hued blue feet to impress the female. Boobies have a funny dance, one of their primary mating rituals, is mostly done by the males to indicate their health and sexual prowess. The blue-footed booby with brighter blue feet is more sexually attractive to the female. Females of this species are slightly larger than males. The blueness of the male's blue feet are indicators of their health and immunity, which also affect sexual stability. Females also have blue feet. The brightness of the color of the blue feet decreases with age.

Blue-footed boobies reach sexual maturity by the age of three to five years. Their breeding cycle occurs every 8-10 months. The female booby lays about two or three eggs which are incubated between the feet of the male booby for 45 days. In the case of eggs as well, coloration matters. Brighter eggs indicate healthier baby boobie birds.

What is their conservation status?

Their conservation status is Least Concern according to the IUCN. The only endangered booby bird is Abbott’s booby, or the Papasula abbotti. The population of the blue-footed booby has been on the decline since 2014 due to climate change, overfishing by humans, a decline in populations of sardines, and trouble in breeding young ones.

Boobies Fun Facts

What do boobies look like?

The blue-footed booby is a marine bird with large and pointed wings, blue webbed feet, and large beaks meant for fishing.

Boobies are characterized by white-feathered bodies, large beaks for catching fish, and webbed feet. The blue-footed booby differs from other boobies because of its characteristic blue-colored webbed feet. It has grey and white plumage and large brown-colored wings. Its eyes are placed in such a manner on either side of its beak that allows binocular vision. Boobies are known to live in flocks at the time of mating. The webbed feet are a characteristic feature of marine birds and are seen across species.

The name boobie originates from the Spanish word ‘bobo’.  

How cute are they?

Boobies are beautiful and rare-looking birds. The baby boobie birds or chicks are incredibly cute with furry white plumage. The blue feet of these birds make them look distinguished from other similar birds.

How do they communicate?

Blue-footed boobies make thin whistling noises and raucous grunts or shouts. The males of the species shoot up their heads and whistle at a passing female. Males detect and search each other by calling. Mating call differs between males and females and individual signatures are present. Hence, the partners can distinguish their calls from others. Generally, the male makes high-pitched whistles while the female makes a honking sound of lower pitch.

How big are boobies?

Boobies are the same size as seagulls and twice the size of a pigeon.

How fast can boobies fly?

Blue-footed boobies can fly at speeds of up to 23 mph (38 kph).

How much do boobies weigh?

The blue footed-booby weighs 3.3 lb (1.5 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

Both the males and females are called blue-footed boobies.

What would you call baby boobies?

The baby booby bird is called a chick.

What do they eat?

The blue-footed booby is a fish-eater and gets all of its food from marine animals. Boobies feed on anchovies, mackerel, sardines, flying fish, etc. They also feed on squid and offal. They dive into the ocean after the prey and can also swim underwater for its pursuit. They usually eat their prey underwater and feed in the early mornings or late afternoons.

Are they dangerous?

Boobies are not dangerous or harmful to humans. They are, however, known for not being scared or shy with humans and can often approach them easily.

Would they make a good pet?

There is no information about boobies being pets. They are free-spirited marine birds and cannot be tamed or petted.

Did you know...

The blue-footed boobies practice urohydrosis, i.e., they defecate on their feet in the hot weather to keep them cool. They also make the skin of their throats (gular pouch) vibrate to pass air and cause an evaporative cooling effect.

Males and females of this species defecate around their eggs since they don’t make nests. The feces create a protective wall around the eggs and keep them from rolling away.

The coloration of their feet is an indicator of health and sturdiness. Studies have found that the bluer the feet of the male boobies bird, the healthier their eggs and chicks are.

While hunting in flocks, the boobies point their bodies like an arrow toward the surface of the sea.

How do blue-footed boobies raise their young ones?

The blue-footed booby raises more than one chick in one breeding cycle. The female blue-footed booby lays two to three eggs in a space of four to five days. Eggs are looked after by both males and females in turns. In practice, the bird which is not sitting would watch after the eggs. To keep the eggs warm, the blue-footed booby uses its feet.

The parental responsibility is shared between the male and the female boobies. In the earlier part of the lives of the young ones, the male booby provides them food. Then the female starts taking responsibility since it can carry more food. The adult regurgitates the food for the young ones to feed on. In case less food is available, the biggest chick is fed first. The parents take care of and watch after their chicks for two months. After that period, young boobies are good to survive on their own.

Where are the boobies native of?

The blue-footed booby is found in tropical and Pacific regions.

Different species of the booby are native to different regions.

The blue-footed booby is found in subtropical as well as tropical regions of the eastern Pacific and in the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador.

Brown booby is found in the Caribbean and Atlantic Islands, Pacific Coasts of North America, and the Red Sea.

Masked booby is found across tropical oceans except for the eastern Pacific and Atlantic.

Nazca booby belongs to the eastern Pacific.

Peruvian booby inhabits the Peruvian Coast.

Red-footed boobies native to the coast of California are a rare sight.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds from our rusty blackbird facts and pitta bird facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our Boobies coloring pages.

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