Skip Navigation

Red-footed Booby

Sula sula
Red-footed booby

Red-footed boobies are the smallest of all boobies. Their legs and feet are red and the bill is pale blue. Juveniles are wholly brown or blackish gray with black bill and facial skin and gray legs. Immature have patchy underwings without definite pattern, white back, mottled gray-brown head, and red or brownish legs. They are polymorphic; few seabirds display such a variety of color phases.

Palmyra supports the second largest colony of nesting red-footed boobies in the world with total population estimates around 6,250 pairs. Due to the high number of nests and varied stages of nesting activity, nesting of the red-footed boobies occurs almost year round on Palmyra. Red-footed boobies' most common nest and roost site is currently Tournefortia argentea along the water’s edge. Surveys conducted in 1992, prior to the recent Pisonia forest decline, showed important colonies of red-footed boobies in Pisonia forests on Eastern, Holei, Bird, and Papala Islands.

They are monogamous and begin breeding at 4 years of age. A single, chalky, white egg is laid. Re-laying can occur if first egg is lost. They lack a brood patch and incubate with their feet. Male and female birds share incubation duties with individual 24 hour incubation shifts. Incubation period ranges between 42-45 days. Chick feeding occurs once every 16-18 hours. Fledging ranges between 95-101 days after hatching. Post-fledging care and feeding can continue for 1 to 4 months.

Facts About Red-footed Booby

Diet
They feed singly or in mixed species flocks, anytime during the day and after dark, by diving vertically into the water and rarely within sight of land. They may dive up to 30 meters to pursue prey - flying fish and squid. 
Life Span
22 years
Size
Length: 66-67 cm (26-30 in); wingspan: 91-101 cm (36-40 in)
Last Updated: May 13, 2013
Return to main navigation