Blue-Footed Booby


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Blue Foot Booby Dancing
The Blue-footed Booby, otherwise known as sula nebouxii, are named after their distinguishing features, their blue feet. Males take tremendous pride in their fabulous feet in which they utilize during mating. These birds can live up to 17 years and are legally protected on the Galapogos Islands but their population sizes remain stable around the world, numbering up to 20,000 total. [3]

Domain
Eukarya
Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Aves
Order
Pelecaniformes
Family
Sulide
Genus
Sula
Species
Sula Nebouxii

Habitat


Blue-footed boobies are found along the continental coasts of the eastern Pacific Ocean next to the Galapogos Islands. Though best-known as a Galapagos inhabitant, the blue-footed booby can also be found on several other arid islands off the western coasts of tropical America, Mexico, and northern South America, from the coast of California to southern Peru. It has also been spotted a few times at inland lakes in Texas and Arizona as well. The population of blue-footed boobies on the Galapogos Islands include all breeding pairs. Blue footed boobies sleep on water and seldom come to land except to breed. These birds are coastal species who forage in cool offshore waters and nest on open grounds of rocky coasts, cliffs, or islands. [1]

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Geographic Distribution of Blue Footed Boobies


Physiology


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Blue Footed Booby Bird Diving
The blue-footed booby has a long, cigar-shaped body with white plumage and brown wings. Its neck and head are light brown and streaked with white feathers. They range in length from 65 to 100 cm (26 to 40 in) and are mostly white, with dark tails and brownish black on the wings. Female birds are slightly larger than males and are also heavier at four pounds (two kilograms) as compared to the males at three pounds (a little less than 1 1/2 kilograms). The wings of the blue footed booby are long and pointed and the beak is dark greenish-blue or grey. Blue footed boobies fold their long wings back around their streamlined bodies to plunge into the water from as high as 80 feet to catch their prey. Also they can dive from a sitting position on the water's surface. Blue footed boobies have a stout bill that is conical and sharply pointed with a slight curve toward the tip. Their necks are also very strong and thick. Their notrils are closed by overgrowth of the bill's horny sheath and their tails are moderately long and wedge-shaped. Boobies breathe through the corners of their mouths. Their legs are short with webbing between all four toes. The bare skin on their face and throat is usually brightly colored as well as their feet and bill. The booby's eyes are oriented on either side of their bill towards the front. They have great binocular vision and their eyes are yellow. The male boobies have more yellow on their iris than the females. [1]

Species Interaction


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Booby Bird Catching Fish
Blue footed boobies are skilled hunters in the air and on water despite their awkward movements on land. The blue footed booby often forage in groups of up to 200 birds or more preying on fish such as sardines, anchovies, and mackerel as well as some squid as a form of predation. They have also been seen preying on flying-fish from the air. Blue footed boobies often make raucous grunts or shouts and thin whistle noises to each other. The males have been known to throw up their head and whistle at a passing, flying female. In addition, their ritual displays are also a form of communication. [4]




Reproduction


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Baby Blue Footed Booby
The blue footed booby usually nests in colonies up to several hundred birds. Breeding may be seasonal in some areas and can also occur opportunisticly in others.Boobies are monogamous and mate for life with one partner. Upon courting their mates, male boobies perform an elaborate and somewhat peculiar courtship display that involves skypointing, which is pointing the head and beak upwards and spreading the wings, and alternately lifting each blue foot with the tail held cocked and often emitting a whistling call at the same time. Both male and female boobies may then skypoint, touch beaks, lift their feet, or pick up twigs or stones and place them on the ground. They build their nests this way on bare ground, within a circle formed from accumulated guano. Female boobies can lay one to three eggs at a time and after hatching, these eggs require an incubation period of around 41 days.When a typical brood of one to three chicks hatches, both parents feed and care for them. Boobies do not have a brood patch and incubate their eggs using heat supplied from the network of blood vessels in the webs of their blue feets. If food becomes limited, the parents only feed the eldest chick and would exclude the younger chicks, leaving them to starve to death. Survivng chicks can fly after 102 days and are dependent on their parents for another 56 days. Breeding occurs for boobies anywhere from two to three years old. [4]





Cultural and Historical Significance


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Blue Footed Booby's Mating Dance
Blue footed boobies are famous for mainly two reasons: they links to Charles Darwin's expedition to the Galapagos Islands, and their unique name. Their name is derived from the Spanish word bobo which means "stupid" or "fool". Its name was probably inspired by the bird's clumsiness on land and apparently unwarranted bravery. The blue footed booby is extremely vulnerable to human visitors because it does not appear to fear them. Therefore these birds received such name for their clumsiness on land in which they were easily, captured, killed, and eaten by humans.[4]





References:


  1. Garbutt, Nick. "ARKive - Blue-footed Booby Videos, Photos and Facts - Sula Nebouxii." ARKive - Discover the World's Most Endangered Species. Wildscreen. Web. 30 Mar. 2011. <http://www.arkive.org/blue-footed-booby/sula-nebouxii/#text=Biology>.
  2. Laman, Tim. "Blue-Footed Booby." Editorial. National Geographic. National Geographic. The National Geographic Society. Web. 11 Mar. 2011. <http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/birds/blue-footed-booby/>.
  3. Raikow, Robert J. "Booby." Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia. Grolier Online, 2011. Web. 30 Mar. 2011.
  4. " Blue-footed Booby, Sula nebouxii at MarineBio.org". MarineBio.org. 15 April 2011 < http://marinebio.org/species.asp?id=527>.

By: Minh Thu An
Dedicated to Ms. Engvall