Blue-Footed Booby | Notebook & Stock Image Gallery

Blue footed booby, Isla de la Plata

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.

Blue footed booby, Isla de la Plata, Ecuador
Blue footed booby, Isla de la Plata

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.

Like Nazca Boobies, which I posted about previously here, blue-footed boobies also practice a form of siblicide, rubbing some of the polish from the cuteness factor.

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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  1. lisa says

    a cute man is sitting beside me on the bus, and when i played the video, he started chuckling. thank you for giving both of us a lighter heart! z

  2. Manja Mexi Movie says

    I’ll forever be grateful to Kurt Vonnegut and his book Galápagos for introducing me to Blue-Footed Boobies. I see now that they live elsewhere too.

    1. Bob R says

      Isla de la Plata is also known as ‘The Poor Man’s Galapagos’. It’s about an hour by boat from Puerto Lopez, Ecuador; day trip, including boat trip + guide is $25. Big difference from a trip to the Galapagos where much of the bird life, anyway, is much the same. (Nearly four years have passed and I still haven’t posted about it here; but will change soon. 🙂 )

  3. Anonymous says

    Can’t wait to tell my cat what his nick name means. “Here Bobo, kitty, kitty, dinner time.”

  4. Jeff Zablow says

    My first meet-up with Blue-footed boobies, and a very good one. Thanks.

    1. Bob R says

      Thanks – I’ll never forget my first time.

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