Sula – Boobies

Members of this genus are named after the word "stupid"

Boobies are medium to large-sized seabirds known for their distinctive diving behavior and somewhat comical demeanor, which has led to their name. The term “booby” is indeed derived from the Spanish word “bobo,” meaning “foolish” or “clown,” which reflects their apparent lack of fear around humans. This naivety made them easy prey for sailors who could catch them easily for food.

These birds belong to the Sulidae family, which also includes gannets. They are characterized by their long, pointed wings, stout bodies, and long, strong bills. Boobies have excellent vision, which they use to spot fish while flying overhead, and large webbed feet that aid in powerful swimming and diving.

Boobies are known for their remarkable hunting technique. They dive from heights of up to 100 feet, plummeting into the water at high speeds to catch fish and squid. Upon entering the water, they use their wings and feet to propel themselves further. Their bodies are adapted to this high-impact lifestyle; air sacs in their face and chest cushion the blow from hitting the water, and their nostrils are permanently closed to prevent water from rushing in during dives.

When it comes to reproduction, boobies are colonial nesters, often found on remote islands where they can breed without much disturbance. They perform elaborate and often amusing mating dances, which include sky-pointing, bill-fencing, and mutual preening. These displays strengthen pair bonds and are part of a complex courtship ritual that ensures the selection of a healthy and suitable mate.

Boobies lay one to three eggs, but often only one chick will survive due to siblicide, where the stronger chick outcompetes the weaker for food. Both parents share the responsibility of incubating the eggs and feeding the young. They regurgitate fish for their chicks, which are dependent on their parents for several weeks before fledging.