Travel Ecuador : Bird watching : Birds :

Blue-footed Booby

A trip to the Galapagos Islands must include a visit to the amazing seabird colonies found on these volcanic lands. One of the most common species is the Blue-footed Booby. A member of the Sulidae (the same family that includes the well known Gannet of the North Atlantic), this large, odd-looking bird numbers in thousands on the Galapagos seabird colonies. Almost all occur as breeding pairs and are frequently observed carrying out their hilarious courtship displays.

Identification
A large seabird, the Blue-footed Booby is most easily recognized by its large, webbed, bright blue feet. Its plumage is mostly brown above and white below, with streaks on the head and neck. Unlike the pale-colored bills of other booby species on the Galapagos Islands, the bill of the Blue-footed Booby is completely dark. In flight, the long wings of this species are apparent and white patches are visible on the nape and rump.

Behavior in Ecuador
In Ecuador, as in other parts of its range in the Pacific Ocean, the Blue-footed Booby forages for fish near rocky coasts. It is frequently seen in flight as it flies above the sea, looking down into the water for an unlucky fish. Once its prey is spotted, it folds its long wings to dive headfirst like an arrow into the salty water. Underwater, its broad webbed feet help the booby swim after its prey. At their breeding colonies, this species has an amazing courtship display whereby the male spreads it wings while pointing both his tail and bill to the sky while giving off a whistling sound. To further impress the female, he shows off his blue feet by stomping the ground and raising each one high into the air.

Habitat and distribution in Ecuador
The Blue-footed Booby is a bird of the Pacific Ocean. In Ecuador, in addition to the large breeding colonies on the Galapagos Islands, it can be seen on Isla de la Plata and as a less common visitor to the western coast.