áReád-Footed Booby   Sula sula                       Sulidae

Distribution: found widely in the tropics, and breed colonially in coastal regions especially  islands.  

Habitat: Feed at sea, but nest on land, perching in coastal trees and shrubs.

Appearance: The Red-footed Booby is the smallest of all boobies at about 70 centimetres (28 in) in length and with a wingspan of up to 1 metre (3.3 ft). It has red legs, with its bill and throat pouch colored pink and blue.  Red-footed boobies appear in a variety of color morphs but all have red feet giving its name. In the white morph the plumage is mostly white (the head often tinged yellowish) and the flight feathers are black.

Diet: S. sula  are spectacular divers, plunging into the ocean at high speeds to catch prey. They mainly eat small fish or squid which gather in groups near the surface.

Remarks: These gregarious birds live in colonies and, during mating season, hundreds of animals may gather to pair up and mate. Females lay only one egg every 15 months, and both parents care for chicks. Young mature slowly, but the low reproduction rate is balanced by these birds’ long lifespan—over 20 years.

The biggest threats to red-footed boobies are a fishing industry that thins their food source, and coastal development with disappearing of the world’s coastlines.

Photo: Jean Haddad