Sporting bright blue feet and a blue-tinged face, the Blue-footed Booby is among the most distinctive species of marine birds in the world. The bird's head is speckled mix of light brown and white. The top of the body and wings, as well as the edges of the tail feathers are brown, while the rest is white. From beak to tail, the bird is just under 3 feet long, while the wings can grow out to 5 feet. The male tends to be smaller than the female, but usually has bigger feet.
Found mainly in the eastern Pacific, in both tropical and sub-tropical climates, the Blue-Footed Booby eats mainly fish. When out searching for food, the Booby will fly high above the water and wait to spot a fish. After it gets a target, the bird will partially fold its wings and then dive straight into the water to catch the fish. If necessary, the bird will swim underwater until it gets its prey. Boobies can hunt individually and in groups, but almost always eats alone.
This Booby's distinctive blue feet are used as part of the bird's mating rituals. The male raises one foot in the air, then switches over to display the other foot. He keeps alternating feet as he struts around the female. Both the male and the female will lift beaks up to the sky while stretching their necks. As part of the ritual, the male will start whistling and displaying his wings. The female may respond by putting her head under her wing.
The Boobies make their nests on the ground, where they will lay up to three eggs per season. The eggs are not laid all at one time. The mother will lay the eggs 4 to 5 days apart. The parents will alternate incubation, using their feet to hold the eggs up since there is no brooding patch on the hard rock. The incubating parent will always turn towards the sun to maximize the warmth for the eggs. It takes about 45 days for the eggs to hatch.
Once hatched, the male becomes the primary food hunter, bringing back fresh fish for the female. Both parents will feed the chicks partially digested fish. If there is not enough food, the parents will always feed the larger chick over the smaller one. That is an adaptation designed to ensure at least one survives. The chicks will continue to feed and grow for approximately two months after hatching, before it's time for them to move out in the world.
While the male Booby has a distinctive whistle, the female tends to make a loud honking noise that its mate can easily recognize, even from afar.
The name "Boobies" is a term that comes from a Spanish word "bobo", which translates to "stupid" or "foolish". The Booby is graceful in air, but definitely has a clumsy walk while walking on land. It is also considered foolish because it fears nothing human, tending to land on passing boats where passengers, in the past, would capture them to eat.
The blue of the Booby's feet come in many shades, ranging from electric blue to indigo, with even a few shades of turquoise thrown in. Why this species developed these distinctly blue feet is not fully understood. But those big blue feet make it very easy for one Blue-footed Booby to recognized another.