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Red-footed Booby

Sula sula ORDER: SULIFORMES FAMILY: SULIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

The smallest of the boobies, the Red-footed Booby is an uncommon visitor to the mainland United States. It is seen only rarely off the California coast and at sea off southern Florida, and it breeds in the Hawaiian Islands.

At a GlanceHelp

Measurements
Both Sexes
Length
27.2–31.1 in
69–79 cm
Wingspan
59.8 in
152 cm
Weight
30–38.8 oz
850–1100 g
Other Names
  • Fou à pieds rouges (French)
  • Bubia pies rojos (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • Like all boobies, the Red-footed Booby never carries its prey in its beak. Instead, it always swallows it before flying.
  • The Red-footed Booby comes in a confusing array of color morphs, ranging from individuals that are all white except for blackish on the wing, to individuals that are entirely dark brown. Some birds fail to fit neatly into any of the typical color morph categories, and many variations exist. Color morphs do not segregate reproductively or geographically; individuals representing several morphs breed in a single colony.
  • The oldest recorded Red-footed Booby was at least 22 years, 11 months old.

Habitat


Ocean

Nests mainly on coral atolls or volcanic islands in tropical seas. Spends rest of time at sea.

Food


Fish

Squid and fish, especially flying fish.

Nesting

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
1 eggs
Egg Description
Chalky white.
Condition at Hatching
Naked and helpless.
Nest Description

Large open platform of twigs, lined with grasses or leafy matter, placed in small tree or shrub.

Nest Placement

Shrub

Behavior


Aerial Dive

Plunge-dives from various heights into schools of fish. May catch flying fish in the air. May grab prey at surface.

Conservation

status via IUCN

Least Concern

Red-footed Booby populations are scattered throughout the world, with larger concentrations in Pacific coastal areas and islands. The North American Waterbird Conservation Plan estimates a continental population of 300,000 breeding birds, rates the species a 15 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score, and lists it as a Species of High Concern. Red-footed Booby is not on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List. Human poaching and interference has resulted in large declines in populations over the last 200 years. Still commonly taken as food in some areas, and populations appear to be continuing to decline.

Credits

Range Map Help

Red-footed Booby Range Map
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bird image Blue-winged Warbler by Brian Sullivan

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