The Nearly Transparent Face and Feet of a Mysterious Bird of Prey

A seabird known for its very distinctive bright blue feet is the blue-footed booby.

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The blue-footed booby (Sula nebouxii) is a marine bird native to the eastern Pacific Ocean’s subtropical and tropical regions.

Ymx1ZV9mb290ZWRfYm9vYnlfMTRqcGc=.pngIt is one of six species known as boobies, of the genus Sula.

The feet of these birds turn blue as they grow older, this is known as a secondary sex trait used to attract male birds in courtship behavior.

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The name of this bird, ‘booby,’ comes from the Spanish word ‘bobo,’ meaning foolish, and refers to this species’ clumsiness on land, along with their willingness to approach people.

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In a somewhat elaborated mating ritual, the males show off their eye-popping feet while strutting against a female to elicit interest.

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The female is slightly larger than the male and, with a wingspan of up to 1.5 m (5 ft), can measure up to 90 cm (35 in) long.

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These boobies live off Central and South America’s West Coasts.

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The population of the Galápagos Islands comprises about half of all Blue-footed Boobies breeding pairs.

Its diet mainly consists of fish, which it obtains by diving and sometimes swimming underwater in search of its prey.

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The blue-footed booby usually lays one to three eggs at a time. The species practices asynchronous hatching, in contrast to many other species whereby incubation begins when the last egg is laid and all chicks hatch together. This results in a growth inequality and size disparity between siblings, leading to facultative siblicide in times of food scarcity.

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Concerns of a decline in the booby population of the Galápagos Islands prompted a research project in its cause. The project, completed in April 2014, confirmed the population decline. The blue-footed booby population appears to be having trouble breeding, thus is slowly declining. The decline is feared to be long-term, but annual data collection is needed for a firm conclusion that this is not a normal fluctuation.

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