An Introduction to the Galapagos Blue-Footed Boobies

By November 11, 2016 Animals, News No Comments
Galapagos Blue-footed boobies

Blue-footed boobies are large sea birds (with a five-foot wingspan and measuring 70-90 cm in length) that are most recognizable by their stunning sky-blue feet. They can be observed breeding along the coast of Southern California and down the western coast of America to Peru, but are most commonly known to inhabit the Galapagos Islands. Galapagos Blue-footed boobies are one of the most iconic species in the archipelago, and are celebrated for their spectacularly precise plunge-diving and their highly-ritualized (and somewhat comical) mating dances that optimistic males display for onlooking females. However, while they are the most renowned booby birds and the most frequently seen, this is the smallest population of the booby family and, sadly, there numbers are decreasing.

Blue footed booby

Blue-footed booby males and females can be differentiated most easily by sound, although it is also possible to visually differentiate them if you have an acute eye; females appear to have larger pupils than males, however it is merely the effect of extra black pigmentation. The calls for blue-footed boobies are very important, as they allow them to communicate to a certain extent and, in fact, mates are actually able to recognize each other by their calls. Males make a high whistling noise and females have a low honking call. Additionally, females have slightly darker blue feet and are just slightly larger in size.

Galapagos Islands tours with Blue-footed boobies

Would you like to see the amazing courtship dance of the Galapagos Blue-footed boobies?

Check this video:

The Galapagos blue-footed booby is a relatively young species and was only recently taxonomically named in 1882, coincidently the same year Charles Darwin died. Experts believe that the closest related species is the Peruvian booby due to the similar biological and ecological features between the two species. There are only two subspecies of blue-footed booby. The first, the Sula nebouxii excise, can be recognized by its slightly duller color while the other subspecies, Sula nebouxii nebouxii, can be distinguished by its slightly smaller body. The two birds belong to the genus Sula, which is made up of five booby species, all of which are a part of the Sulidae family, along with gannets.

Blue footed boobies infographic

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