Blue-Footed Booby

Blue-Footed Booby

Blue-Footed Booby Nesting
Photographer: R J Hall

Blue-Footed Booby Range Map (Western Americas)
Blue-Footed Booby Range Map
(Western Americas)
Latin Name Sula nebouxii
Conservation Status Least Concern
Location W Mexico to N W South America, Galapagos Islds
Colour Brown
Length 80 - 85 cm (32 - 34 inches)
Wingspan Approx. 158 cms (62 inches)
Weight 1.5 Kgs (3.25 lbs)
Life Expectancy 17 Yrs

Main Characteristics

Blue-Footed Boobies are between 80 and 85 cms (32 - 34 inches) in length, they have a wingspan of approximately 158 cms (62 inches) and they weigh approximately 1.5 kgs (3.25 lbs). Males are smaller and lighter than females.

They are adapted for diving, having a cigar shaped body, narrow wings, a long, pointed tail and permanently closed nostrils. Their wings are brown in colour and their underside is pale.

They get their name from their vivid blue legs and feet with males and younger birds having lighter feet than females.

Blue-Footed Boobies have yellow coloured eyes that are placed on either side of their bill and oriented towards the front of the head. They have excellent vision which they use to locate their prey.

Males communicate using high-pitched whistles and females make a lower honking sound.


Blue-Footed Boobies are found from western Mexico to north west South America and on the Galapagos Islands. They are marine birds that only come to shore to breed.

The largest breeding population is found on the Galapagos Islands and it consists of approximately half of all breeding pairs.


The Blue-Footed Booby mainly feeds upon fish such as, flying fish, sardines, anchovy, and mackerel. They also occasionally feed on squid.

They capture their prey by diving from a sitting position or by plunge diving and swimming under the water. They tend to dive from heights of 10 - 30 m (33 - 100 ft), they hit the water at speeds up to 96 km/hr (60 mph) and they reach depths up to 25 m (82 ft). They hunt alone, in pairs or in groups and they usually consume their catch while they are still under water.

Due to males being smaller than females they are also able to fish in shallow water - even rock pools.


Blue-Footed Boobies breed throughout the year and males produce elaborate courtship displays to attract females. These displays consist of him flaunting his blue feet by doing a high stepping walk and stamping his feet.

1 - 3 eggs are laid in a shallow depression on bare ground. Both parents take it in turns to incubate the eggs but unlike most birds the Blue-Footed Booby lacks a brooding patch so they use their feet to keep their eggs warm.

The eggs hatch after 41 - 45 days and the chicks will sit on their parents feet to keep warm. They are fed on regurgitated fish but if food is scarce, the largest chick will only be fed. The male is the initial provider of food as due to his more specialized diving skills he doesn't have to travel far to find food. The female then takes over as the primary provider when the chicks demand more food.


Predators of Blue-Footed Booby include humans.


Subspecies of the Blue-Footed Booby are:

Sula nebouxii nebouxii

Interesting Facts

The name "booby" comes from the spanish term bobo, which means "stupid fellow".

Pelicans and their relatives make up the order "Pelecaniformes" and they can be distinguished from other birds by having feet with all four toes webbed - totipalmate.

Similar Birds

Red-Footed Booby
Masked Booby
Peruvian Booby
Brown Booby

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