Blue Footed Boobies
The blue-footed booby (Sula nebouxii) is a marine bird in the family Sulidae, which includes ten species of long-winged seabirds. Blue-footed boobies belong to the genus Sula, which comprises six species of boobies. It is easily recognizable by its distinctive bright blue feet, which is a sexually selected trait. Males display their feet in an elaborate mating ritual by lifting their feet up and down while strutting before the female. The female is slightly larger than the male and can measure up to 90 cm (36 in) long with a wingspan of up to 1.5 m (4.9 ft).
The natural breeding habitats of the blue-footed booby are the tropical and subtropical islands of the Pacific Ocean. It can be found from the Gulf of California down along the western coasts of Central and South America down to Peru. Approximately one half of all breeding pairs nest on the Galápagos Islands. Its diet mainly consists of fish, which it obtains by diving and sometimes swimming underwater in search of its prey. While it sometimes hunts alone, the blue-footed booby mainly hunts in groups.
The blue-footed booby usually lays one to three eggs at a time. The species practices asynchronous hatching, which means that eggs that are laid first are hatched before the consequent eggs, resulting in a growth inequality and size disparity between siblings. This results in facultative siblicide in times of food scarcity, making the blue-footed booby an effective model for studying parent-offspring conflict and sibling rivalry.