Red-footed booby

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The red-footed booby (Sula sula) belongs to the family Sulidae. The red-footed booby species is distributed in Indian Ocean, Indian islands and Pacific Ocean.

Taxonomy of Red-footed booby

  • Scientific Name: Sula sula
  • Common Name: Red-footed booby
  • French: Fou à pieds rouges; German: Rotfußtölpel; Spanish: Piquero patirrojo;
  • Other names: Pelecanus sula Linnaeus, 1766;
  • Family: Sulidae › Suliformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Species author: (Linnaeus, 1766)
Red-footed booby species was earlier included in the genus Pelecanus. The three recognized subspecies are: S. s. sula (Linnaeus, 1766), S. s. rubripes Gould, 1838 and S. s. websteri Rothschild, 1898.

Indian birds - Red-footed booby - Sula sula
Indian birds - Red-footed booby - Sula sula


The red-footed booby bird is the smallest among booby species. It is a medium sized bird, measuring 65 to 80 cm in length and weighing 900 to 1,000 grams. The wingspan is 135 to 150 cm. These booby birds are red footed and have relatively long tail, large eyes and pink and blue colored throat pouch. The bill is colored blue. The bare skin around the eyes is also often blue. There are several morphs among red-footed booby birds. The white morph has white plumage and black flight feathers. There are black tailed white morph and all brown morph. The red-footed booby birds make harsh rasping sounds and call 'rah-rah-rah' on nearing the breeding ground.


The breeding habitat of red-footed booby birds is tree-covered tropical islands. When not breeding they spend much of the time foraging in the sea around the breeding colony.

Feeding habits

The red-footed booby birds are excellent divers. They dive underwater to catch the prey. They are also seen plucking the prey out of water surface. These birds mainly feed on squids and fish, especially flying fish.


The red-footed booby birds breed in the tropical islands. These birds nest in large colonies in islands with vegetation. A white egg is laid in the nest constructed on trees with sticks. Both the parent birds incubate the egg and take care of the chick. These booby birds are nearly monogamous, pairs remaining together for several seasons.


The subspecies S. s. sula is distributed in Caribbean islands and in islands off East Brazil. The subspecies S. s. rubripes occurs in islands in Indian Ocean and tropical islands in Pacific Ocean. It is a rare visitor to Indian islands. The subspecies S. s. websteri occurs in tropical islands in Pacific Ocean.

Movement Patterns

These booby bird may be considered sedentary as they spend much of the time near the breeding colonies.

Status and conservation

The global population of these booby birds is estimated to number about 1,000,000 individual birds. There is steady decline in population due to breeding habitat loss and predation by invasive species. However there is wide range and large population. These booby species are considered least threatened.

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated these booby species and has listed them as of "Least Concern".

Biological classification of Sula sula
Species:S. sula
Binomial name:Sula sula
Distribution:Indian Ocean, Pacific Ocean and rare visitor to Indian islands;
Feeding habits:squid, flying fish and other fish;
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern

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