Galápagos Blue Footed Booby interesting facts

The blue footed boobies are undoubtedly one of the species that attracts the most attention in the Galapagos Islands. The characteristic color of its legs combines perfectly with the turquoise waters of the Galapagos Islands, a place that is home to around 50% of the population of this species. Here we will tell you a little about their characteristics, rituals, behavior and in what part of the Galapagos Islands it is common to find them.

blue footed boobies, blue footed booby galapagos
blue footed booby galapagos

Blue footed booby description

  • Common name: blue footed boobie,

  • Scientific name: Sula nebouxii

  • Class: Birds

  • Piscivorous

  • Life expectancy: 17 years

  • Size: 0.86 cm, wingspan approximately 154 cm.

The Blue-footed Boobies (Sula nebouxii) are an endemic species of the Galapagos Islands; It is between 75cm and 1 meter tall, and weighs between 1 and 2 kilos. It’s  white eyes with large black pupils give it an intense look.

Blue Footed Booby Babies

When they are born, blue footed boobies are completely white. At birth even the color of their legs is white, because its characteristic blue color is due to pigments acquired in their diet of the species. Its narrow and elongated silver-gray beak is its fishing tool, which is the basis of its diet.

While they are babies, they are not capable of fishing or fly by themselves, that’s why they are fed by their parents.

blue footed booby baby
blue footed booby baby
blue footed booby baby
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Blue Footed Boobies Behavior

One peculiar characteristic about them is that they are not afraid of the humans. Instead of flying out when they notice our close presence, they ignore us completely and do not feel us as a threat. This allows us to appreciate their movements closely. It is an incredible experience that can be enjoyed with very few species of birds, and even less with a special one like the Blue-footed Booby.

The incubation of the eggs takes them between 3 and 5 days. Both male and female are in charge of this task equally. While hatching their baby they acquire a defensive pose with their beaks, on alert at all times preventing a possible approach of other species that usually attack them, as is the case of the frigatebird.

Difference between male and female

There are several clues that will allow us to identify male and female blue footed boobies. The first thing we can see is that the male is usually smaller than the female. They can also be identified by the sounds they make (especially during the mating ritual) the male makes hissing sounds.

They can also be identified by the color of the head and the size of the pupils. White-headed boobies are usually male, and those with dark heads are female. In the same way (although it is a bit more complicated to observe) those with a large pupil are female and those with a small pupil are males.

Blue footed boobies mating dance

The mating season for blue-footed boobies is usually between June and August. The ritual begins with the male picking up a small twig (an indication that he wants to build a nest) and hands it to the female. Then proceed to do the dance.

One of the most amazing experience that you can enjoy in Galapagos is the courtship that the male makes to the female prior to mating. The male begins by approaching the female slowly, accentuating his gait from side to side. In the male we detect his intentions from the moment he begins to approach if we look at his tail, which he keeps raised and erect as a clear sign of satisfaction and ostentation. Once the female’s attention is captured, she begins to lift her wings, displaying them with pride, as this is what females look for when selecting a male.

If you are lucky, you can watch personally this dance on the Los Tuneles tour on Isabela Island. If you are planning to go to Galápagos we’ll be happy to help.

If the blue footed booby’s dance moves succeed and gets the “yes” from the female, she will be starting to organize and prepare the nest for the blue footed booby baby. Things go pretty fast for this birds!!

Females have a few requirements and things they look for in the male to build the nest with, for example, the size of the male. However, probably the most important one for the female (besides the dancefloor performance) is the place the male has chosen to display his dance. The reason for this is that the place where the male displays the blue footed booby dance will be the same place where they will immediately build the nest and the female won’t risk the future of the baby because of the wrong location.

Another part of this mating ritual is that the male spreads his wings to show its wingspan and raises his beak so that the female can fully evaluate. It is funny to see the female looking at the male from top to bottom while performing these movements, and evaluating whether he is suitable to take care of babies with him.

Blue footed booby’s babies are born completely white, even the feet. The reason they have blue feet is because of the type of food they eat, so when the baby is able to fish on its own feet will slowly turn blue and that would be an indication that it has become an adult.

Blue footed booby’s dance dont always suceed

If the female is not quite impressed she will look away and completely ignore the male and the dance. Sometimes, when the male notices this rejection, he tries with more energy and can even bring some wood sticks to give her as a gift to impress her.

If the female is receptive and likes the male she will respond moving her legs and raising her beak, making sounds and showing some excitement too.

Blue Footed Booby Habitat

We can find this bird along of the west coast of the American continent, from the southern United States to northern Peru. However, the vast majority return to the Galapagos Islands to mate. They do not have a fixed mating season, so regardless of the time you visit us you can enjoy this unique show.

Some years ago it was very easy to find specimens on every island in Galápagos. However, due to the lack of their favorite fish (sardines and herring), the number has recently been reduced and Seymour Island is the perfect place to find them. This island, located to the north of the island of Santa Cruz, is an inhabited rocky island where they feel at home, and you will find a large number of other birds such as the frigate bird and numerous species of marine iguanas, as well as a very unique and endemic vegetation of the island. It is also possible to see them on the Los Túneles Tour on Isabela Island during the hiking part included on the tour. In the tunnels of Isabela it is also possible if you have a little luck to see their mating ritual and also see the baby blue-footed boobies.

Although they are more concentrated in some places, in many places in the Galapagos Islands it is possible to find blue footed boobies, so we have prepared a list for you to consider when planning your visit to Galapagos:

BlueFooted Boobies Galapagos
  • North-east of Isabela Island

  • North of Fernandina Island in Punta Espinosa

  • Santiago Island, near the volcanic crater and near Playa Dorada

  • Rabid Island (you can only visit it on a cruise)

  • Plaza Sur and Santa Fe Island

  • San Cristóbal Island: Punta Pitt, Cerro Brujo y Puerto Grande.

  • North of Floreana Island

Blue Footed Booby Diet

Blue footed boobies are fishing experts.
Watching them feed is also a unique spectacle. If you see them flying over areas near the coast, circling at a constant height, don’t lose sight of them. The moment they see their prey, they launch vertically into the water, at a speed that can reach 100 km / h. After having achieved their goal, they keep swimming in the water or with low flight, with an sense of satisfaction.

BlueFooted Boobies Galapagos

Come see them yourself!

Galapagos Blue Footed boobies are beautiful, unique and funny animals and can be found in several spots on the Galápagos Islands.  Anything we tell you here can’t compare to the experience of watching them so close (complying to Galapagos distance Rules always ) and seeing how amazing nature can be, specially on these Islands. 

If you are looking to visit Galápagos, at Galapagos Low Cost we can help you make this come true.

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By |2021-02-16T23:15:23+01:00October 20th, 2019|Galapagos Animals, Isabela|0 Comments

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