The red-footed booby (Sula sula) is the smallest of the booby species and arguably the weirdest. Its
bright lipstick-colored feet are attached to a body of rather dull white with pale brown wings. The feet serve a
role in courtship, being waved in front of prospective mates imagine someone with a pair of Elton John
platform boots and you get the idea. The function of the blue bill is still being debated. The bill has small
saw-toothed ridges along its inner length, presumably to help grasp its slippery prey: squid and fish. This bird
has large eyes because it feeds at night, although it is active also during the day.
The red-footed booby is one of the few species of seabirds that perches in vegetationmost others dwell on the ground. This behavior is probably not to avoid predators since there are none on most of the islands on which it breeds. More likely it is to avoid competition with the other booby species which being bigger would usually win disputes over nesting territory. This bird is on the branch of a palo santo tree on the trail above Prince Philip's Steps.
The color of a fully mature red-footed booby is remarkableamong the most flamboyant seabirds. This one was sitting near a scruffy twig nest on a mangrove bush, not a promising place because the eggs would be exposed to direct sun and get too hot. Red-footed boobies prefer to nest in the shade of a tree (see below). This picture was taken on the trail that leads up from Darwin's Beach to the bay formed by Tower's sunken caldera.
The chick of the red-footed booby might win first prize for Cutest Galapagos Animal. During their first few weeks of life they are just a furry ballactually downy ball, because birds don't have fur. As the red-footed booby nests in trees it is the only member of its family to build a nest and this rather crude affair consists of a stack of twigs, usually well-hidden in vegetation. They like to nest in mangrove or palo santo, but will set up house in almost any available tree. The parents take turns to incubate the egg which takes 45 days to hatch. Until it fledges after 130 days, the chick spends its entire life in this nest. This picture was taken in a mangrove tree on Darwin's Beach.