Red-footed Boobies

The Red-footed Booby, Sula Sula, is a large seabird of the gannet family, Sulidae. They are powerful and agile fliers, but they are clumsy in takeoffs and landings.


The Red-footed Booby is the smallest of all boobies at 71 cm in length and with a 137 cm wingspan. It has red legs, and its bill and throat pouch are colored pink and blue.

This species has two plumage forms. The white phase is mostly white with black on the flight feathers. The brown form is brown with a white belly, rump, and tail. Both forms may occur sympatrically (in the same region), as in the breeding colony on St. Giles Island, Tobago.

Males and females look alike, and young birds are greyish with browner wings and pink legs.

Red-footed Boobies


This species breeds on islands in most tropical oceans. It winters at sea and is therefore rarely seen away from breeding colonies. It nests in large colonies, laying one chalky blue egg in a stick nest in a tree, which is incubated by both adults for 44-46 days. It may be three months before the young first fly, and five months before they make extensive flights.

Red-footed Booby pairs may remain together over several seasons. They perform elaborate greeting rituals, including harsh squawks and the male’s display of his blue throat.

Red-footed Booby, Sula sula


Red-footed Boobies are spectacular divers, plunging into the ocean at high speeds to catch prey. They mainly eat small fish or squid which gather in groups near the surface.

Red-footed Booby, Sula sula
Juvenile Red-footed Booby
Red-footed Booby, Sula sula - Brown morph
Newly Hatched Red-footed Booby, Sula sula
Red-footed Booby chick, Sula sula
Red-footed Booby, Sula sula - Brown morph with chicks
Red-footed Booby, Sula sula
Red-footed Booby, Sula sula
Male Great Frigatebird with chick and nesting Red-footed Booby in foreground.
Photo of author

Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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