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Blue-Footed Booby



The Blue-footed Booby (Sula nebouxii excisa, piquero de patas azules) is most easily identified, as its name suggests, by its bright blue feet. It has brown upper plumage and white lower plumage, with wings being a slightly darker brown than the rest of the body. Juveniles are completely brown and receive their coloration after about one year.


Males are slightly smaller than females and perform an elaborate, intensely entertaining mating dance to attract their female partner. The male begins by lifting up his enormous clown-feet one-by-one, and then stops in a distinctive pose, beak raised skyward, announcing his manhood with a loud whistle, pointing out his tail, and opening his wings. This is accompanied by a love-offering of sticks and twigs. Females join in the mating dance, following the same movements, but respond with a guttural honk. Besides their distinguishing sounds, the females also have larger eye pupils.


Breeding can take place at any time of the year when the food supply is abundant. Up to three eggs are laid in a “guano ring,” or nested circle of booby dung. When food is scarce, the oldest sibling will push younger sibling(s) out of the guano ring in an act of “cainism.” This form of natural selection is effective, because young outside of the ring are refused care and ultimately perish.


The young take two to six years to mature, at which time they will return to their island birthplace to mate. Meanwhile, they travel among the islands feeding on fish, which are caught in a graceful plunge dive. Watching the boobies fish—either from the air or underwater—is a major highlight in the Galapagos.


Blue-footed boobies are best viewed in coastal waters at the visitor sites of Punta Suarez (Española), North Seymour, and Punta Pitt (San Cristóbal).

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to The Galápagos Islands: Marine Life - Galápagos, White-Tail Damselfish, Champion Islet Visitor Site, American Oystercatcher, Getting Around the Galapagos Islands, Flamingo, Galapagos Cruises: What's Included?, Planning your Galapagos Trip, Herons and Egrets in the Galapagos and Red-Billed Tropicbird.

04 Jun 2007

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