booby trap

Booby Facts

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"Boobies have a wingspan of about 5 feet"

© AZ-Animals.com

The booby is a seabird that lives along the coasts of Central and South America. Boobies are carnivorous birds that feed on anchovies, mackerel, sardines and squid. These feathered creatures are awkward to walk on land but are excellent fliers and divers. They can live up to 17 years in the wild.

An Incredible Bird: 5 Facts About Booby Traps!

Masked boobies in the Galapagos Islands
Boobies mate for life.

©Jill L. Ferguson/Shutterstock.com

  • Boobies stay with the same mate for life
  • A colony or colony can include up to 200 boobies
  • A booby that spots fish in the sea can dive from 80 feet or more
  • Boobies are similar in appearance to gannets
  • When the bird is getting enough vitamins and other nutrients, its feet will remain dark blue or even purple.

scientific name

funny animal names
Boobies are named for their clumsy, clumsy behavior.

© tamara bizjak/Shutterstock.com

The blue-footed booby's scientific name is Sula nebouxii . Its name comes from the Spanish slang word bobo. Bobo means stupid or clown. When Spanish sailors observed the clumsy way these feathered creatures walked and moved on land, they called them bobos. In addition to their silly reputation, the animals boarded Spanish ships, making them easy for sailors to catch and eat.



They belong to the family Muridae and Birds.

There are six species of this seabird. They all belong to the genus Sura. These include:

  • blue footed boobies
  • masked booby trap
  • brown boobies
  • red-footed booby
  • peruvian boobies
  • nazca boobies

appearance and behavior

Masked boobies can easily be mistaken for gannets.

© Angela K. Kepler – Public Domain

Boobies are 32 to 34 inches long and have a wingspan of about 5 feet. Imagine two and a half bowling pins stacked together, and you're the same length as a 34-inch booby. When considering a 5-foot wingspan, imagine a length equal to one-quarter the length of a giraffe! These animals weigh a little over 3 pounds. A 3-pound booby weighs about half a brick.

The appearance of this feathered creature varies from species to species. Of course, blue-footed boobies are known for their brightly colored feet. This species has no blue or purple feet from birth. Babies or chicks are born with white feet. Their feet don't turn blue until they are six months old. Brown boobies do not have blue feet. Instead, it is known for the dark brown plumage on its back and head.

The masked booby is also known as the masked gannet because it looks so much like a gannet. The plumage of both is mostly white with brown spots on the wings and tail. The masked booby is named for its feathers that form a blue mask on its face.

Red-footed boobies? You guessed it! It is known for its bright red feet. It also has a pink and blue beak that distinguishes it from other species of boobies.

The Peruvian booby has brown feathers on the back and wings with white undersides. Also, the Nazca booby has white feathers on its back with some brown spots on the feathers. Its beak is a combination of orange and pink.

The animal has two yellow, glowing eyes and a serrated beak. The rough, sharp edges of its beak help the animal grab the slippery fish that make up its food.

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The feet of boobies, whether blue-footed, red-footed, or another species, have a purpose (besides walking). Male blue-footed boobies show off their feet to attract mates. Additionally, both males and females cover nestlings with their feet.

The largest species is the masked booby. It has a wingspan of up to 5 feet 7 inches and weighs up to 5 pounds.

This animal is social and lives in a colony. There can be anywhere from a dozen to hundreds of birds in a flock. A large number of birds in a colony can deter predators from entering the area to try to steal from the nest.

These creatures make a lot of noise in the form of grunts, horns, and whistles. So, as you can probably guess, the colony of these animals is a great place to visit!

One of the most notable qualities of a blue-footed, red-footed, masked, or other type of booby is curiosity. The seabird is unlikely to be startled if anyone approaches it. In fact, they're known for landing on boats or other types of vessels to check on human activity on board!

These animals can be aggressive during mating season. For example, if two males are competing for a female's attention, some aggressive behavior may develop between them. Otherwise, they are mostly non-aggressive animals with curious natures.

evolution

galapagos islands
Blue-footed boobies are abundant in the Galapagos Islands.

© iStock.com/cicloco

When Charles Darwin traveled to the Galapagos Islands in 1835, the blue-footed booby was one of the animals that helped inspire his initial studies of evolution. Their vibrant periwinkle paddles and superb diving skills are sure to dazzle any animal lover. These birds, once synonymous with the island, have declined in recent years in their evolutionary birthplace. Because boobies are so-called biological indicators, they change their diet and habitat in response to changing factors in their environment. While blue-footed boobies once lived on the Galapagos Islands with little human disturbance, since the 1970s the island's population has steadily increased while driving the birds away. Although these birds were instrumental in initiating the theory of evolution, little is known about their ancient history, other than the fact that they diverged from a common ancestor in Peru sometime 200,000 years ago .

Habitat

Portrait of a brown booby (Sula leucogaster) sitting on a boat in the ocean, closeup
Boobies are notoriously curious.

©ZHMURCHAK/Shutterstock.com

These are tropical creatures. Blue-footed boobies live in Central and South America, especially the west coast. This species is abundant in the Galapagos Islands. The brown booby's habitat includes the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea, Indian Ocean, and Pacific Ocean. The masked booby's habitat includes a large swath of the Pacific Ocean.

The seabird spends the night in its nest on land. During the day, it flies into the sea to catch fish. Despite their clumsy, erratic movements on land, these seabirds are specialists in flight. When they spot a fish, they begin their dive at 80 feet or more in the air with their wings flat on their body. Additionally, they can travel up to 50 feet below the surface of the water.

The animal's nostrils are covered with flaps of skin, which keep water from running up their noses when they dive. These seabirds also have what's called a third eyelid, which closes before the animal hits the water. So think of boobies as champion divers with natural nasal congestion and goggles! When you learn that a booby can fly at 60 mph when overboard, it makes sense that it has these adaptations to dive safely.

These animals do not migrate. But they do move to nesting areas within their habitat range. The breeding season of this animal runs from June to August.

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diet

Female blue-footed booby Sula nebouxii laying eggs, North Seymour Island, Galapagos, Ecuador
Boobies must work hard to protect their eggs from potential threats.

©OSTILL is Franck Camhi/Shutterstock.com

This feathered creature is a carnivore. They have been known to hunt in packs, so when someone spots a school of fish, they all have something to eat!

What eats boobies?

Adult boobies do not have any natural predators. However, the bird's chicks and eggs may be eaten by snakes, owls, and other larger birds.

What do boobies eat?

The bird eats fish, including anchovies, sardines, mackerel, and squid. Female boobies are able to dive deeper into the ocean than males. Therefore, they may eat larger fish than the males catch.

Predators and Threats

Cyclone, Monsoon, El Niño, Beach, Rough
Tropical storms can adversely affect boobies.

©iStock.com/Ashish Kumar

While adult boobies are mostly safe from predators, their young and eggs are vulnerable. Snakes, owls, and other large birds sometimes steal young from the nest and eat them.

Human-caused water pollution is a threat to these organisms. Additionally, weather events such as El Niño have reduced bass populations. This fish is the main food of boobies living in the Galapagos Islands.

The conservation status of the blue-footed booby is not worrying, and the population is stable.

Reproduction, Babies and Longevity

Blue-footed boobies mother and baby on Grand Seymour Island, Galapagos, Ecuador
Baby blue-footed boobies have yet to show the traits of their namesake.

© MindStorm/Shutterstock.com

The blue-footed boobies' mating season runs from June to August. Male blue boobies swagger around to get the attention of potential mates. He's sure to show off his bright blue feet! Bright blue feet and even purple-edged feet are a sign of the bird's health, and therefore make a good companion. Males may also whistle to get more attention. Once a female and a male are paired, they remain attached for life.

These feathered creatures make their nests on rocky ground or in coastal sand. The nest is made into a bowl shape. By the time the eggs hatch, the nest will be covered with feces. This is because the females and males will defecate and defecate in the nest to care for the young.

The gestation period for these birds is 40 to 45 days. This is similar to the gannet's gestation period of 42 to 46 days. They usually have 2 or 3 eggs in a clutch. The eggs are light blue in color and usually vary in size. Mom and dad take turns sitting on the nest, protecting their eggs with their colorful feet. One member of a pair forages for food for the other guarding the nest.

Once the eggs hatch, the featherless chicks are fed by their mother and father. They are completely dependent on their parents. Because they lack feathers, chicks are easily burned by the harsh sun in tropical environments. Mother birds use their feet to cool and protect their young. The chicks stay in the nest for 2 months. After leaving their parents, young birds are likely to live in the same area as their parents.

These animals can live to be around 17 years old in the wild. The record for the oldest species belongs to a masked booby who lived to be 25 years old. It lives in the Pacific region.

population

Frigatebird steals food from other seabirds
The status of most boobies populations globally is stable.

© Duncan Wright – Public Domain

Scientists estimate that there are between 6,000 and 10,000 blue-footed boobies living in the Galapagos Islands. There are believed to be around 2,000 masked boobies.

While populations of this seabird have declined in some areas, their populations have generally remained stable. The official conservation status of the blue-footed booby is worry-free.

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species

Earlier we discussed some of the different types of boobies and their most distinctive features, below you can find a complete list of all 6 species of this silly seabird:

common name scientific name
blue footed boobies sura
brown boobies white belly sura
masked booby trap Finger seaweed
nazca boobies Grantisula
peruvian boobies Variegated Sura
red-footed booby sura sura

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about the author

Corinna Seibel


My name is Corinna! In my profile photo you can see me with one of my two cats, Bisky! The other is Yma, a beautiful black Bombay cat. I'm 24 years old and live in Birmingham, Alabama with my partner, Anastasia, and enjoy making music, collecting records, and reading in my free time. Some of the other animals I own are a hamster, two chihuahuas, and many different kinds of fish.

Booby FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Are boobies herbivores, carnivores or omnivores?

Boobies are carnivores, which means they eat other animals.

To which kingdom do boobies belong?

Boobies belong to the animal kingdom.

What phylum do boobies belong to?

Boobies belong to the phylum Chordate.

What category do Boobies belong to?

Boobies belong to the class Aves.

Which family do Boobies belong to?

Boobies belong to the family Sulidae.

What order do boobies belong to?

Boobies belong to the order Peliciformes.

What genus do boobies belong to?

Boobies belong to the genus Sura.

What type of mulch do Boobies have?

Boobies are covered in feathers.

What type of habitat do boobies live in?

Boobies live on subtropical and tropical islands.

What is the main prey of boobies?

Boobies prey on flying fish, sardines, anchovies and squid.

Who are the predators of boobies?

Predators of boobies include humans, owls and birds of prey.

How did the boobies get their name?

The name originated from Spanish sailors who noticed them off the coast of the Galapagos Islands. When these sailors observed the seabird's clumsy movements, they nicknamed it Bobo. The word bobo means clown or fool.

Where Do Boobies Live?

These are tropical animals that live on the west coast of Central and South America. They also live in the Gulf of Mexico, Indian Ocean and across the Pacific Ocean. These animals live in tropical climates.

How many species of boobies are there?

There are six species of boobies. These include Bluefoot, Redfoot, Brown, Peruvian, NASCAR, and Masked.

What do boobies eat?

This seabird eats sardines, mackerel, anchovies and squid.

Do boobies migrate?

Won't. But this seabird moves a short distance to the nesting area during the breeding season.

How many eggs does a boobies lay?

They lay 2 to 3 eggs.

How fast do boobies fly?

These animals can fly at speeds of up to 60 mph. They dive very fast in pursuit of fish.

What is the wingspan of a booby?

The wingspan of this animal is about 5 feet. The masked booby has the largest wingspan at 5 feet 7 inches.

When Do Boobies Leave The Nest?

Chicks stay with their parents in the nest until they are 2 months old. After independence, they don't venture too far from their birthplace.

What are the distinctive features of boobies?

Boobies have large bodies and brightly colored feet.

What are some interesting facts about boobies?

Boobies are seabirds found throughout the South Pacific!

What is the lifespan of boobies?

Boobies can live 12 to 17 years.

How do Boobies have babies?

Boobies lay eggs.

How to say Boby in…

Catalan

mascarel kamabrau

Esperanto

blue sky cow

polishing

Głuptak niebieskonogi

Portuguese

Patola-de-pes-azuis

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source
  1. Oceana, available here: https://oceana.org/marine-life/seabirds/blue-footed-booby
  2. Wikipedia, available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brown_booby
  3. Aurora Expeditions, available here: https://www.aurora-expeditions.com/blog/wildlife-fact-file-blue-footed-booby/