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Blue-Footed Booby

Blue-Footed Booby Facts

Size 27.5-35 in (70-90 cm); up to 4.9 ft (1.5 m) (wingspan)
Speed Up to 60 mph (97 km/h) (nosedive)
Weight 3.3 lb (1.5 kg) (average)
Lifespan 12-17 years
Food Fish, sardines, anchovies, jellyfish
Predators Owls, birds of prey
Habitat Mexico, Ecuador, Peru, Galapagos
Order Suliformes
Family Sulidae
Scientific name Sula nebouxii
Characteristics Gaudy blue feet

Main Characteristics

The Blue-footed Booby is a tropical sea bird with bright blue feet.

Blue-Footed Booby Photo: BlueOrange Studio/Shutterstock

Anatomy and Appearance

Why Do Blue-Footed Boobies Have Blue Feet?

Now, this is a bit complicated: The webbing of the feet contains a layer consisting of structural proteins. They provide a kind of supporting “base frame” for the cells. This special layer reflects the blue light waves which hit the little feet. The blue color is also related to the food of the blue-footed boobies. If you put them on a diet, the blue color is getting paler and paler after two days already.

Blue-Footed Booby Photo: Steffen Foerster/Shutterstock

What Do Blue-Footed Boobies Do With Their Blue Feet?

For a male blue-footed booby there is nothing more important than the blue color of its feet. During the mating season it struts about in front of the ladies and displays its flashy feet. One after the other, again and again. Even when landing, the blue-footed booby never forgets to present the soles of its feet – a bird lady might be watching.

Studies have shown that the color of the feet is actually an ideal of beauty among boobies and that male birds with feet in a less distinctive shade of blue more often stay single. The more intense the blue color of the feet, the more popular are the male boobies with the females.

Blue-Footed Booby Photo: Don Mammoser/Shutterstock

Senses and Abilities

Blue-Footed Boobies Are Fast

When hunting for food, boobies dive into the water either from the water surface or they nosedive from a height of 24 meters into the ocean. In doing this they reach speeds of up to 60 mph (97 km/h)!

Blue-Footed Booby Photo: BlueOrange Studio/Shutterstock


Blue-Footed Boobies Have Warm Feet

Blue-footed boobies keep their eggs warm with their feet, because they are well supplied with blood and thus serve as a little "foot heater" for the youngs.

Blue-Footed Boobies Defecate on Their Eggs

Of course, the little booby in the egg is happy about the cozy warmth coming from above. Fortunately the youngs do not realize in their shell what is going on around them.

While breeding, their parents do not go to the "toilet". They just keep sitting on the egg. Consequently, the excrements fall on the ground around the egg and, after some time, form a little circular wall. Yuck!


How Did the Blue-Footed Booby Get Its Name?

Why is the booby called booby? The name clearly shows that the discoverers of this little bird did not regard it as very smart. No matter if they were right or wrong, blue-footed boobies move rather clumsily indeed. They are not afraid of humans and can be easily caught. This behavior actually appeared a bit dumb and made people name the birds boobies.

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