Red-footed Booby

Sula sula rubripes / Ā
Redfooted booby
  • Found at KīlaueaPoint year round
  • Ā means to talk a lot or jabber in Hawaiian, which probably refers to the squawking noises the birds make. The chatter is especially noticeable from their colony at Kīlauea Point.
  • Red-footed boobies are the smallest of all boobies.
  • Polymorphic (the occurrence of two or more clearly different morphs or forms). Few seabirds display such a variety of color phases. Adults display either a light and dark morph.
  • Immature have patchy underwings without definite pattern, white back, mottled gray-brown head, and red or brownish legs.
  • Juveniles are wholly brown or blackish gray with black bill and facial skin. Gray legs.
  • Adult red-footed boobies have red legs and feet. Bill is pale blue.
  • Dark morphs have a tan head and belly.
  • Light morphs have a white body and tail plumage. Upper wings have black primary and greater secondary coverts.
  • You can find the light morphs at Kīlauea Point National Wildlife Refuge.
  • They are pelagic birds, spending the majority of their life on the open ocean and only venture back to land to breed. Pelagic birds are powerful fliers with exceptionally long, thin wings. They also have a special salt gland that helps them extract excess salt from their body. This allows them to drink seawater and ingest water from prey without accumulating toxic levels of salt in their bloodstream.
  • Begin breeding at four years of age. Monogamous.
  • A single, chalky, white egg is laid. Re-laying can occur if first egg is lost. Lacks brood patch. Incubates with feet. Male and female share incubation duties. Individual incubation shifts average about 24 hours. Incubation period is approximately 43 days.
  • Chick feeding takes place once every 16-18 hours.
  • Fledging occurs approximately 91 days after hatching. Post-fledging care and feeding can continue for one to four months.
  • Breeding season ranges from late January through September.
  • Nests are built of twigs and sticks on tops of wilelaiki (Christmas berry, Schinus ferebinthifolius) and tree heliotrope (Tournefortia argentea), both nonnative shrubs, and on the branches of ironwood (Casurina equisetifolia). The refuge is restoring a native coastal plant community to provide the following native habitat species: naupaka (Scaevola sericea) and hala (Pandanus tectorius

Facts About Red-footed Booby

Feeds by diving vertically into the water and rarely within sight of land. May dive up to 10 meters to pursue prey, primarily flying fish and squid. Feeds singly or in mixed species flocks. Feeds anytime during the day and after dark.

Life Span
22 years

Length: 66-67 cm (26-30 in); wingspan: 91-101 cm (36-40 in)