Nazca Boobies and the End of Innocence

Don’t be deceived by the innocent look this newborn Nazca Booby, less than a month old, is sharing. It’s quite likely that she aided in the untimely demise of her younger sibling.

Nazca Boobies, like these that I observed last May on Isla de la Plata off the shore of Puerto Lopez, Ecuador, practice obligatory siblicide, an act wiki describes as such:

Mothers lay two eggs, several days apart. If both eggs hatch, the elder chick pushes its sibling out of the nest area, leaving it to die of thirst or cold. The parent booby cannot intervene and the younger chick inevitably dies.


..Nazca Booby dominant A-chicks always begin pecking their younger sibling(s) as soon as they hatch;[9] moreover, assuming it is healthy, the A-chick usually pecks its younger sibling to death or pushes it out of the nest scrape within the first two days that the junior chick is alive.


Adults that have failed to breed frequently seek out nestlings in their colony, and during those visits they often bite, preen and even try to copulate with chicks. The causes of this behavior are not fully understood.

This Oedipal-like variation does rub some of the varnish from the cuteness factor of these birds, but it doesn’t make them any less amazing.

Most common in the Galapagos Islands, they are plentiful enough on Isla de la Plata to ensure that most visitors will see a few during their day hike across the island. The one below, according to my guide, had recently arrived from the Galapagos, some 1,100 kilometers, or almost 700 miles, away.

Adult Nazca Booby resting its wings on Ecudador's Isla de la Plata

Nazca Booby adult and chick

More on Isla de la Plata, part of Machalilla National Park and dubbed the Poor Man’s Galapagos, soon.

More birds on Piran Cafe:


~ Blue-Footed Booby (Sula nebouxii)
~ Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis)
~ Chimango Caracara (Milvago chimango)
~ Cinereous Harrier (Circus cinereus)
~ Emerald Toucanet (aulacorhynchus prasinus)
~ James’s Flamingo (Phoenicoparrus jamesi)
~ Magellanic Penguin (Spheniscus magellanicus) 1 | 2 | 3
~ Magnificent Frigatebird (Fregata magnificens) male |
~ Nazca Booby (Sula granti)
~ Southern Lapwing (vanellus chilensis)
~ White-Crested Elaenia (Elaenia albiceps) – seeking confirmation, please


~ Blue-Footed Booby (Sula nebouxii)
~ James’s Flamingo (Phoenicoparrus jamesi)
~ Magellanic Penguin (Spheniscus magellanicus)

Multi-species videos:

~ Bird Island (Isla de los Pájaros), a surreal setting in a mangrove near Puerto Pizzaro, Peru. Primarily magnificent frigatebirds, both male and female, but also ibises and great white egrets.

Or, browse through the website’s bird category list.

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  1. Greg Seymour says

    Great headline and photos. That first picture of the chick is great. Very interesting behavior these birds exhibit. There is an island off of Costa Rica called Cocos Island that has similarities to the Galapagos – I look forward to checking it out.

    1. BobR says

      Any excuse to use Booby in a headline. 🙂 Interestingly, my spell-checker kept changing Nazca to Nazi.

      A good friend of mine, who’s been living in San Jose since the mid-90s, told me about Cocos. Sounds like a fantastic place.

  2. ninano says

    Despite the down, they don’t really look cuddly… I didn’t know about these birds. Their behaviour reminds me of the cuckoo’s. Good photos.

  3. Playamart - Zeebra Designs says

    that’s a precious photo, but beauty is what beauty does!  How lucky one is to be the first born, and how tragic to be the younger sibling!


  4. […] Nazca Boobies and the End of Innocence | piran café […]

  5. Anonymous says

    Haha! Damn auto correct. That is hysterical. I’m glad I was the first born, too. Survival of the fittest.

    1. Oops. that comment above is mine. I didn’t want you tho think I feared posting my real name. lol

      1. BobR says

        🙂 Thanks for clarification. But no, I’d never think such thoughts about you.

  6. […] managed to use ‘boobies’ in a blog post headline today, and it’s only January 3. It’s going to be a good […]

  7. Angeline M says

    Wow…Nazca Boobies. Who knew? I think this is going to be a good year!

    1. BobR says


  8. […] Nazca Boobies and the End of Innocence | piran café […]

  9. […] Nazca Boobies and the End of Innocence | piran café […]

  10. […] Nazca Boobies and the End of Innocence | piran café […]

  11. Sharon @ Where's Sharon? says

    Wow charming birds! I’m glad I’m not a booby! I love your picture 🙂

  12. […] Nazca Boobies and the End of Innocence | piran café […]

  13. The GypsyNesters says

    It doesn’t seem to have hurt their numbers, at least not that we saw in The Galapagos last year. Survival of the fittest (or in this case older) I suppose.

  14. mytanfeet says

    Nature is so interesting and never ceases to amaze me! Birds especially when it comes to raising young and chick survival have such crazy (and mean) tricks up their sleeves.

  15. globalmouse says

    They are beautiful birds! I love how nature works, it really is survival of the fittest. Amazing to see them in the wild…thank you for sharing the fascinating stories about them!

  16. Love the name of the post and the name of the birds! And of course those pictures are amazing!!

    A great post here to really describe these birds in their fine form. Inspiration to anyone who has an interest in shooting nature!

  17. Chasing the Donkey says

    What curious and odd behaviour! Those poor chicks on teh ground… sounds so sad and mean.

  18. Jess says

    But, but. . . she’s so cute and fluffy!

    I guess they’re sort of like baby chickens. They’re just adorable little balls of fuzz. Adorable little balls of fuzz who occasionally team up and peck one of their siblings to death.

    1. BobR says

      I think my little sister felt that way sometimes, but that was different.

  19. foreignsanctuary says

    Catchy title! The young exhibit such interesting behavior right from the beginning. Great read and great pictures! I love the first picture of the baby – it looks so innocent (but looks can be deceiving!)

  20. […] Nazca Boobies and the End of Innocence | piran café […]

  21. […] Nazca Boobies and the End of Innocence | piran café […]

  22. Jempi & Nina says

    Love the pictures! Great post Bob! Cheers, Jempi & Nina

  23. ahubbard10 says

    I loved everything about this! They do looks so adorable and innocent-I would have never guessed haha

  24. Syd says

    It’s a booby eat booby world?

    (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

    1. BobR says

      Indeed it is. And the sooner we all realize it, the better.

  25. […] Nazca Boobies and the End of Innocence | piran café […]

  26. […] Woodpecker (Campephilus magellanicus) ~ Magnificent Frigatebird (Fregata magnificens) [male] ~ Nazca Booby (Sula granti) ~ White-Crested Elaenia (Elaenia albiceps) – seeking confirmation, […]

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