The blue-footed booby is an incredibly beautiful and unusual species of the booby family. People who have not been interested in fauna before, most likely know little about these birds. Despite the fact that there are 3 genera and 10 species in the gannet family, all birds are similar to each other. The appearance of blue-footed boobies is quite funny. There are many funny pictures on the Internet where this species appears. Well, let’s take a closer look at what the blue-footed booby is.
Origin of the species and description
The blue-footed booby was first seen on the seashore. The first idea about them was formed by the famous naturalist Charles Darwin during his trip to the Galapagos Islands. During his trip around the world, he managed to discover many new species of animals. In honor of this man, some geographical objects, representatives of fauna and plants were named.
In general, even the name “gannet” itself came from the very beginning from the Spanish word “bobo”, which in turn translates as “stupid” or “clown”. No wonder the bird was given such a name. Her land movements are rather clumsy. Gannets are very naive and gullible birds. They are not afraid of people at all. Sometimes, this can play a cruel joke on them.
According to their habitat, it is not difficult to assume that the blue-footed booby is an exclusively sea bird. She spends most of her life in the water. Birds use the shores only to build nests and continue their offspring.
Appearance and features
The blue-footed booby has a relatively small body – only 75-85 centimeters in length. The weight of a bird can vary from 1.5 to 3.5 kilograms. It is interesting to note that females are sometimes much more massive than males.
Speaking about the plumage of a bird, one must immediately say that the wings have a pointed shape. Their range can reach 1-2 meters. The body of the booby is adorned with brown and white feathers. The tail of the bird is relatively small and covered in black.
Forward-facing eyes have good binocular vision. They are colored yellow. In females of this species, there is a pronounced pigment ring around the pupils, which literally visually increases the size of the eyes. The nostrils of the bird are constantly closed due to the fact that they are looking for their prey mainly in the sea. The blue-footed booby breathes primarily through the corners of its mouth.
The bird has an unusual appearance in comparison with other sea birds. A special distinguishing feature is the color of her legs, which can be either light turquoise or deep aquamarine. By the color of the legs, it is quite easy to distinguish the female from the male, since in the former it is rather nondescript. Studies on the gannet have shown that the shade of the limbs is indicative of the current state of health of that bird. Over time, their brightness decreases.
Where does the blue-footed booby live?
As mentioned earlier, the blue-footed booby lives mainly on the shores of the sea. The bird lives in a tropical area in the eastern Pacific Ocean. Their nests can be found from the Gulf of California all the way to northern Peru, where they live in colonies on small islands. This zone has the most favorable climate for their habitat.
This representative of the fauna can also be found off the western part of Mexico on the islands that are located near Ecuador. But still, their greatest concentration is observed in the Galapagos Islands.
In total, more than 40,000 pairs of these birds inhabit the globe. Note that approximately half of them live on the Hawaiian Islands. This area is indeed the most attractive for this species, as it is protected by law there. Thanks to this factor, the blue-footed booby in this area can afford to live offshore.
What does the blue-footed booby eat?
The diet of blue-footed boobies is directly related to their habitat. The bird eats only fish. They go hunting for themselves and their families mainly in the morning or evening. The diet of this species includes:
- Mackerel and so on
The process of eating looks like this. At the very beginning, the bird flies over the surface of the sea and seeks out prey for itself. Their beak is always pointed down for a quick dive into the water. After the gannet has noticed the fish, it quickly folds its wings and immediately dives into the water. In water, they can swim to a depth of 25 meters. After a few seconds, if successful, they emerge from the water with prey in their beaks.
Interesting fact:This species dives into the water when it sees fish there, but the hunt for it occurs already during the ascent. The reason is clear – the bright light pattern on the belly of the prey makes it easy to calculate the movements of the marine life in the water.
The blue-footed booby can also hunt flying fish, which often emerge from the water for an impressive amount of time.
Peculiarities of character and lifestyle
The blue-footed booby leads an exclusively sedentary lifestyle. Most often they fly out of their nest for prey. The climate in the area where the birds live is acceptable throughout the year.
The process of communication of these birds occurs by shouting out whistling sounds. Scientists have found that birds can distinguish each other just by sound, because the voices of representatives of different sexes are also different. In this way, females and males can easily find their partners in a large crowd.
Despite the fact that the bird most often leaves the nest to search for prey, it likes to just soar over the sea from time to time. Gannets have an excellent sense of aerodynamics, so this process is not the slightest difficulty for them.
Researchers have observed aggression in some species of gannets. Newborn chicks are attacked from time to time by adult birds. Accidents eventually lead to the fact that, having matured, the chick begins to perform the same actions itself. Despite this fact, the blue-footed booby considered by us on this page has not yet been seen for such. More attention is needed to this bird’s lifestyle.
Social Structure and Reproduction
Blue-footed boobies look for a mate for 3-4 years of life. Reproduction in them, like in many other species, begins with the choice of a marriage partner. Birds are monogamous. Males always do everything possible so that the female pays attention to them, choosing him for mating. To please his companion, whom the male noted for himself, is not so simple. A significant role in the choice is played by his legs, namely the color. Females prefer bright blue shades. If the color is gray-blue, then the male is likely to fail.
When the choice has been made, the pairs choose a place for nesting. Blue-footed boobies build their nest on sand or gravel, and sometimes in thickets. The choice of material generally depends on the habitat.
Birds do not like to cluster tightly next to each other, so their nests are at a fairly large distance. Nesting occurs constantly, and eggs are laid approximately every 8 months in 2-3 pieces. The eggs of bare-footed boobies are white.
The hatching period is not the shortest. For 40 days future parents are waiting for their chicks. Both the male and the female participate in their upbringing. The babies are under the supervision of their parents for about 100 days, and after that they become independent.
Natural enemies of blue-footed boobies
By the immutable law of nature, the blue-footed booby, like all other representatives of the fauna, is surrounded by its natural enemies. They are skuas and frigatebirds.
The male and female may sometimes leave the nest unattended together, going in search of food. Their enemies most often choose this moment. Their main delicacy is laying eggs, which are just unattended. In this case, the blue-footed booby, having discovered the loss, re-lays eggs, but guards them more responsibly and carefully.
Also, this beautiful bird can be endangered by humans. Poachers with guns can turn up at the most unexpected moment. And, unfortunately, in this case, people, hunting for adults, do not give the slightest chance to survive for the offspring, because there will be no one to look after them or, moreover, there will be no one to hatch them, and they will simply lose the chance to be born. Thus, a person, shooting at parents or adults of gannets, reduces the population not only of the current, but also of the future, because without knowing it, they destroy the chicks left without their parents.
Population and view status
The population of the blue-footed booby is almost impossible to meet in captivity, as the bird is a rare inhabitant of the environment located close to humans. They are very easy to exterminate, as the birds are quite trusting, friendly and not entirely attentive, both to their clutches and to their own safety.
This rare, extraordinarily beautiful and amazing bird, although it hides from humans, is as it lives mostly on islands, but will not resist human attention.
So far, they are not listed in the Red Book, but without the protection of human society, they definitely cannot survive. Of course, the population plays an important role in the food chain, because in nature everything is interconnected.
When you see this unusual stranger, show care for him. Blue-footed boobies are often very tempting with their distinctive — with bright blue or light blue legs, they are very remarkable to study and, unfortunately, to hunt. The bird almost does not experience stress, it easily makes contact, which plays a positive role for people who are engaged in increasing the population of this species.
The blue-footed booby is a unique bird of its kind. She is very unusual, trusting and inventive. On one piece of land, it is protected, and this is good news, but a person still needs to take care of the environment, regardless of whether there is such a rule or not. Ornithologists say that nature does not often create such amazing species of animals for us. Who, if not a person, can help a bird to successfully exist in the open world?