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Table of Contents
A large seabird of inshore waters, the blue-footed booby (Sula nebouxii) is among the six species of the genus Sula, distinguished for its unique bright blue feet.
See the fact file below for more information on the blue-footed booby or alternatively, you can download our 27-page Blue-footed Booby worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- In 1882, French naturalist Alphonse Milne-Edwards initially classified the blue-footed booby under its present binomial name Sula nebouxii.
- There are two known subspecies: (1) S. n. nebouxii on the Pacific coast of Southern and Middle America, and (2) S. n. excisa on the Galapagos Islands.
- It shows a great resemblance to the Peruvian booby.
- The term booby is derived from the Spanish word bobo, meaning “stupid”, “foolish”, or “clown” due to the fact that the blue-footed booby is, similar to other seabirds, clumsy on land. These species are also recognized as foolish for their apparent courage towards humans.
- The blue-footed booby reaches an average of 81 cm tall and weighs 1.5 kg, with the female somewhat larger than the male. It has long, pointed wings that are brown in color. Its neck and head sport light brown feathers with white streaks, while its belly and underside are pure white. Its yellow eyes are positioned on either side of its bill and aligned towards the front, providing superior binocular vision.
- The chicks have black beaks and feet and are covered in soft white plumage.
- The subspecies S. n. excisa found on the Galapagos Islands is larger compared to its nominate subspecies and grows lighter feathers, particularly around the neck and head.
- Compared to its closest relative, the Peruvian booby, both species display similarities in appearance, although the latter has grey feet, a whiter head and neck, and white spots on its wings. The distribution of the two birds overlaps in the northern Peru and southern Ecuador waters.
- Given that the blue-footed booby catches fish by diving headfirst into the water, its nostrils are permanently sealed, and it has to breathe through the edges of its mouth.
- Its most distinctive feature is its blue-colored feet, which vary from a pale turquoise to a deep aquamarine in color. Its blue feet, which come from carotenoid pigments from their diet of fresh fish, play an important role during courtship rituals and breeding, with the male vibrantly showing off his feet to attract his potential mate.
Distribution and Habitat
- The blue-footed booby is scattered across the continental coasts of the eastern Pacific Ocean from California to the Galapagos Islands south into Peru.
- It is solely a marine bird and only has to travel inland to breed and rear young, which typically takes place along the rocky coasts of the eastern Pacific.
- It may use and protect two or three nesting sites, which are made up of bareblack lava in small sods in the ground, until they find their preferred nest a few weeks before hatching. These nests are built as parts of large colonies.
- While nesting, the female blue-footed booby faces the sun throughout the day, so its nest is circled by excrement.
Behavior and Ecology
- The blue-footed booby is a specialized fish eater, consuming small species of fish, such as sardines, anchovies, mackerel, and flying fish, and even squid and offal.
- It can hunt individually, in pairs, or in larger groups.
- Boobies wander in flocks, which is composed of 12 individuals, to regions of water with large schools of small fish. When the lead booby spots a fish, it signals the rest of its members and they all dive in unison, turning their bodies down like arrows.
- They consume their prey underwater.
- Their ability to dive underwater with an average speed of about 97 km/h in depths of 25 m below the water surface is caused by their skulls’ special air sacs that protect their brain from extreme pressure. Individuals choose to eat on their own instead with their hunting flock, usually early in the morning or late in the afternoon.
- Both sexes fish differently based on their anatomy. The male blue-footed booby is smaller and has a proportionally larger tail, allowing it to hunt in shallow areas and deep waters. The female, on the other hand, appears to be larger and can carry more food.
- Blue-footed boobies produce raucous or polysyllabic grunts or shouts and thin whistling noises. Males are seen throwing up their heads and whistling at a passing, flying female.
- Mates can distinguish each other through calls. Adults can differentiate the calls of their mates from others.
- They are monogamous birds, although some research states that they might also be bigamous. They are opportunistic breeders, with the breeding cycle taking place every eight to nine months.
- Of all the booby species, the blue-footed strain is one of the only two species that gives birth to more than one chick in a breeding cycle. Females usually lay two or three eggs, approximately four to five days apart. Parents take turns incubating their eggs, and the non-sitting blue-footed booby keeps watch. Given their lack of a brooding patch, they make use of their feet to keep the eggs warm.
Blue-footed Booby Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle that includes everything you need to know about the Blue-footed Booby across 27 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Blue-footed Booby which are native to subtropical and tropical regions of the eastern Pacific Ocean and make an important model for parent-offspring conflict and sibling rivalry research.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Blue-footed Booby Facts
- Creature Corner
- Circle of Life
- Facts Only
- A Blue-Foot Told Me
- Booby FAQs
- In the Blue and Red Corner
- Name the Boobies
- Blue is the Warmest Color
- Other Seabirds
- Save the Birds
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Link will appear as Blue-footed Booby Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, September 9, 2021
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.