|Facts and Knowledge:
The blue-footed booby is a goose sized tropical sea bird that breeds on islands off the Pacific coast. It catches fish in spectacular plunging dives beneath the surface of the waves The blue footed booby is one of the world's most comical looking seabirds. It has dazzling blue webbed feet, a cigar shaped body, and long pointed wings and tail. Its tapering, pointed bull with separated edges is ideal for grasping the slippery fish that are its prey..
Breeding During the breeding season, which is year young, the males stage elaborate courtship deplays (see back page). After mating, two to three eggs are laid in a shallow depression on flat or gently sloping ground. Both male and female take turns incubating the eggs.
Unlike most birds, the blue-footed booby, along with its relatives the gannet, the cormorant, the tropical bird, and the pelican, lacks patches of bare skin, called brooding patches, that erve to transmit heat from the birds body to the eggs. Instead, the booby incubates the eggs beneath its broad, webbed feet. The feet have an increased blood supply which conveys heat to the eggs, maintaining a constant temperature of 103º F.
When the chicks start to hatch, the booby supports the eggs on the tops of its feet. The chicks , which have only a sparse covering of down, aree brooded here. Chicks feed from both the male and the female, thrusting their bills inside their parents to obtain regurgitated fish. The male brings in a constant supply of small fish for the chicks, who must be fed continually. If food is scarce, the larger of the chicks will be fed at the expense of the survival of its smaller, weaker nest mates. This behavior ensures that at least one chick in each brood will survive. If more food is available, all the chicks may survive.
Food & Feeding: The blue-footed booby spends such of its time gliding purposefully over the water, bill angled downward, watching the surface for signs of fish. It can dive from heights of up to 80- feet. Streaking downward at great speed, with wings angled in close to it body, it hits the water with barely a splash and resurfaces several yards away with its catch. Sometimes it will catch flying fish in midair. Unlike other boobies, the bluefootedbooby will also catch fish by diving below the water from a simming position on the surface.
Although it feeds alone, the bird will cooperate within a flock of boobies to hunt fish. The first bird to spot a fish gives a single whistle as a rallying call; the rest of the group follows the first as it dives into the water. Their movements are perfectly synchronized. The blue-footed booby feeds mainly in the early morning and late afternoon, possibly to avoid the attention of the frigate bird, who might steal its food. The male booby is adapted for catching one size of prey while the female is adapted for another. The lighter, more maneuverable male can dive into extremely shallow water in order to catch relatively small fish. The much heavier female catches larger fish further offshore in deeper water. Between them they can exploit a wide variety of prey.
Key Facts: Sizes, Weight, breeding,
lifestyle, related Species
Related Species: There are
nine species of gannet and booby the gannet in temperate waters, the boobies
in tropical and subtropical waters.
Features of the Blue-Footed Booby:
Flight display: The male also
flashes his feet at his mate in an airborne "salute" while landing after
making a courtship flight over his territory
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