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Wild Personalities: Blue-footed Booby

Get to know these high-stepping seabirds

Order: Suliformes

Family: Sulidae


SpeciesS. nebouxii 

Range: The western coast of the Americas, from Mexico and Panama to north Peru and the Galápagos Islands where 50% of the world’s breeding pairs nest. 

How to spot them: Eponymous teal-blue, webbed feet; long, dark, daggerlike bill; distinct yellow eye; white body and light brown wings; can reach up to 34 inches tall with a wingspan of nearly 5 feet.  

IUCN Red List Status: Least concern

Discover fun facts about the blue-footed booby.

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Known for their flashy feet and comical courtship dance, blue-footed boobies have become synonymous with the Galápagos Islands. Large numbers can be found all through the archipelago, including on North Seymour & Española Islands which are home to the largest breeding colonies. And since the animals here are famously not afraid of humans, you can get up close to all their antics—from the high-stepping struts to the clumsy waddles. 

On land, blue-footed boobies seem awkward and clown-like, but once in their comfort zone—at sea—they’re like a whole different bird. While hunting for small fish, boobies can dive from as high as 80 feet, hit the water at 60 miles an hour, and plunge as far down as 65 feet! They fold their wings backwards to create a more aerodynamic shape and special air sacs in the skull help protect their brains from impact. Another fun fact: their nostrils are permanently sealed shut to keep water out. Instead, they breathe through the corners of their mouths. 

Watch the video above to learn more about these iconic island dwellers.