Standing on bright blue feet, with a claw-like beak and perfectly round lemon-lime eyes, a blue-footed booby isn’t a bird you’ll likely ever forget. The fun name helps, too.
The Blue-Footed Booby, or Sula nebouxii, is an unusual marine bird whose native habitats are tropical and sub-tropical islands on the Pacific Ocean. It can be found along coastlines from the Gulf of California to Peru, but is most common and indeed iconic on the Galapagos Islands, where about half off all breeding pairs nest.
These photos were taken on Isla de la Plata, a small island off the coast of Ecuador. The island is oftentimes referred to as the ‘Poor Man’s Galapagos’, since many of the same birds can be found there, less than two hours by boat from the town of Puerto Lopez and at a fraction of the cost of travel and lodging to and on the Galapagos.
On average, the birds are 81cm (32in) long and weigh 1.5kg (3.3 lbs), with the female slightly larger. The male has larger feet that are lighter in color and a smaller pupil.
Its diet consists mainly of small fish which it hunts and collects by diving. It’s a fascinating display which I chose to simply watch instead of photograph. Wiki:
Plunge diving can be done from heights of 10–30.5 m (33–100 ft) and even up to 100 m (330 ft). These birds hit the water around 97 km/h (60 mph) and can go to depths of 25 m (82 ft) below the water surface. Their skulls contain special air sacs that protect the brain from enormous pressure. Prey are usually eaten while the birds are still underwater.
But most will observe them on land where they are at their least graceful. Some appear downright clumsy which is the likely story behind there name. ‘Bobo’ is the Spanish word for stupid —one I’m quite familiar with. 🙂 — which some have suggested as the source of its common name.
I’d never characterize them as such, but they can be very loud. Here’s a brief video I posted before to give you a general idea of their raucousness.
They’re not considered to be under threat, but a recent study published in the journal Avian Conservation and Ecology suggests that their numbers have dwindled by a third because the birds aren’t finding the food they need to breed. The Summit County Citizen’s Voice has a good summary (April 2014) of the studies.
And finally, a 14-photo gallery. Click on the image for a larger version.
All images © Bob Ramsak 2013-2014. All rights reserved.
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