Booby

Photo by M Nota
Photo by M Nota

The Booby is the name given to any of six species of seabirds found in large colonies on islands in tropical and subtropical waters throughout the world. Heavily built, boobies are from 26 to 40 inches (65-100 cm) long. They have fairly long stout necks and strong, cone-shaped bills. Their feet are large, four-toed, and fully webbed. Their plumage is from mostly white to black and white or brown and white. The bill, facial skin, and feet are often brightly colored. Females are slightly larger than males.

Boobies are magnificent fliers. They feed by diving almost vertically into the water, commonly from a height of 50 feet (15 meters) or more, but sometimes from just above the surface. The birds submerge briefly to swallow their prey underwater. Their main food is squid and fish. Most boobies generally feed just offshore, but some range hundreds of miles from land.

Although some boobies are tree nesters, most breed on the ground or on rock ledges. Most species lay 2 or 3 eggs, but the red-footed booby normally lays only one egg, and the masked and brown boobies lay 2 eggs but raise only one chick. Both parents incubate the eggs and feed the young.

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