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You are here: Home > Island Paradise > Galapagos Animals & Wildlife > Boobies

Blue-footed, Red-Footed & Masked Boobies



66 - 92 cm (26 - 36 in)

Up to 152 cm (60 in)

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Boobies are large, conspicuous seabirds with cigar-shaped bodies, long dagger-shaped bills and, in flight, long pointed wings and characteristic wedge-shaped tails. They have rather short legs but large webbed feet which, in the case of the Blue-footed and Red-footed boobies, are used during courtship, the birds deliberately lifting their feet and showing them to their mates. The sexes are alike. Boobies feed at sea by plunge-diving from the air.


Blue-footed Booby Bird

Scientific Name: Sula nebouxii
Family: Sulidae
Length: 76 -84cm (30 - 33 in)
Wingspan: Up to 152 cm (60 in)

Common resident endemic subspecies excise. Population estimated at 20,000 pairs; breeds throughout the year, nesting on the ground.

Identification: Adult: Sexes alike, although females have pigmented area around iris making pupil appear larger; blue feet diagnostic. Juvenile: Resembles juvenile Nazca Booby but lacks well-defined brown ‘bib’ of that species and shows white patch at base of hindneck and white rump.

Voice: At breeding colony, males give a plaintive whistle whereas females and immatures give a hoarse “quack”.

Behavior: Courtship display, performed near nest, involves birds lifting their feet and waving them in the air. Usually feeds close inshore.


Red-footed Booby Bird

Scientific Name: Sula sula
Family: Sulidae
Length: 66 - 77cm (26 - 30 in)
Wingspan: 91 to 101 cm (36 - 39 in)

Common but rather localized resident. Population estimated at 15,000 pairs (including 9,000 pairs on Genovesa / Tower Island). Breeds throughout the year, nesting colonially in trees (the other boobies nest on the ground).

Identification: Adult: Two colour forms: brown and white. Both forms have diagnostic combination of red feet and blue bill. Juvenile: Resembles brown form of adult but feet are dark; distinguished from other juvenile boobies by wholly brown underparts.

Behavior: Courtship display, performed on branches near nest, involves birds lifting their feet and waving them in the air. Partially nocturnal, feeding well away from land. This perhaps explains why it is less frequently encountered at sea during our Galapagos cruises than other boobies despite being the most numerous species in Galapagos.


Nazca or Masked Booby Bird


Scientific Name: Sula granti
Family: Sulidae
Length: 81 - 92cm (32 - 36 in)
Wingspan: Up to 152 cm (60 in)

Common resident. Population between 15,000 – 20,000 pairs. Breeds throughout the year, with colonies on different islands nesting at different times (e.g. eggs laid on Genovesa Island between August and November and on Española Island between November and February); nests on the ground. Formerly treated as a subspecies of Masked Booby (sula dactylatra) but now afforded full species status.

Identification: Adult: Sexes alike, although females slightly larger with duller bill; only black and white booby with orange-yellow bill. Juvenile: white underparts with distinct brown “bib”, the white breast extending to form a narrow white collar.

Behavior: Usually feeds well away from land.
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