juvenile Blue-footed booby

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.

and

..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.

and

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:

Photos:

~ 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

Videos:

~ 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.

More Stories
Recuerdo Profundo by Jimenez Deredia
Scab Cab Ride