Red-footed Booby

The Red-footed Booby (Sula sula) is a large seabird of the gannet family, Sulidae.

This species breeds on islands and coasts in tropical oceans and it winters at sea. Because of this it is rarely seen away from the breeding colonies. It nests in large colonies and lays one chalky blue egg in a stick nest in a tree. This single egg is incubated by both adults for 44-46 days. Once the egg hatches it may be three months before the young first fly, and five months before they make extensive flights.

Red-footed Booby pairs may remain together over several seasons. During the breeding season they perform elaborate greeting rituals including harsh squawks and the male’s display of his blue throat.

This is the smallest booby, at 71 cm in length and a 137 cm wingspan. It has red legs, and the bill and throat pouch are colored pink and blue. This species has two plumage forms. The white phase is basically white with black on the flight feathers. The brown form is brown with a white belly rump and tail. Both forms may occur together, as in the breeding colony on St. Giles Island, Tobago.

The sexes are similar, but young birds are grayish with browner wings and pink legs.

Red-footed Boobies are spectacular divers, plunging into the ocean at high speed. They mainly eat small fish or squid which gather in groups near the surface. Although they are powerful and agile fliers, they are particularly clumsy in takeoffs and landings.