Birds of the World



  Blue-footed Booby



Totipalmate Swm



 NW Vultures







   NW Flycatchers


 Aust. Wrens
 Aust. Robins
 OW Orioles
 OW Flycatchers
 N Creepers
 OW Warblers
 OW Sparrows
 9-prim. Oscines

   Hawaiian Honycrp
   NW Sparrows
   NW Warblers
   NW Blackbirds


Pelecaniformes - Sulidae
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Families: Tropicbirds, Gannets and Boobies, Pelicans, Cormorants, Anhingas, Frigatebirds,
      Hamerkop, Shoebill
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All Tropicbirds, All Sulids, All Pelicans, All Cormorants, All Anhingas, All Frigatebirds.
Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge
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Plunge Diving, Relative Sizes of Pelicans, Identifying Frigatebirds
Red-tailed Tropicbird, Blue-footed Booby, Nazca Booby, Australian Pelican,
Brown Pelican (Galapagos), Peruvian Pelican. Pied Cormorant, Pelagic Cormorant,
Brandt's Cormorant
, Neotropic Cormorant, Rock Cormorant, Imperial Cormorant,
Red-legged Cormorant, Flightless Cormorant, Great Frigatebird
Red-billed Tropicbird, Blue-footed Booby, Brown Pelican, Double-crested Cormorant,
Anhinga, Magnificent Frigatebird, Totipalmate toes, Gular pouch, Red-billed Tropicbirds, Masked Booby, Northern Gannet, Brown Pelican. Anhinga, Great Frigatebird
  Family Sulidae - Gannets and Boobies
Wiki     ToL     EoL
  9 species  (6 boobies, 3 gannets) in 3 genera according to Sibley and Monroe (1990). Dickinson (2003) and Harris (2009) list 10 species in 3 genera and Clements (2007) lists 10 species and 2 genera.
   Boobies are found in tropical and temperate oceans of the world and Gannets occur in colder temperate waters in the North Atlantic, southern Africa and Australia - New Zealand.
   Their closest living relatives are cormorants/shags and darters. Sulids appear to be the oldest clade in this group but pelicans are more closely related to storks - thus, they could be placed in a separate order, the Order Phalacrocoraciformes (also including frigatebirds).
Masked Booby
   Sulids are relatively large, rock-nesting seabirds. Their bill is stout, straight and pointed but not hooked. Their is a linear groove on each side of the culmen (dorsal edge of the mandible). The edges of the mandibles are serrate. The gular pouch is small. Their bodies are streamlined and they are impressive plunge divers. They may rest on beaches, cliffs, or even ships (boobies) while gannets often roost on the water. Gannets are vocal but boobies are usually quiet away from the breeding area.  Sexes are similar. Most species have a white belly. The bare gular pouch, orbital ring and colored loral area, coupled with forward-directed eyes, give the birds a distinctive appearance. Nostrils are closed in adults and the skull is reinforced to absorb the force of plunge dives. The bill is long, deep at the base, and pointed. The palatines are fused in the midline with a slight keel. There is a well -marked nasal hinge that facilitates taking larger prey. The anterior portion of the sternum extends forward beyond the anterior lateral process of the sternum.
    The claw of the middle toe is broad and comb-like (pectinate). Their feet are fully webbed - totipalmate (and may be brightly colored).
Masked Booby, Sula dactylatra - Oahu, Hawaii.
                                      Wiki     ToL     EoL
     They have long, pointed wings (~ 5' span) and fly strongly. Their wings are set well back on their body. They have wedge--shaped tails. They molt their tail feathers irregularly and their wings in stages so they always have some old, some new, and some growing feathers. They have a well developed uropygial gland (waxy secretions are used to waterproof their plumage).  Sulids may be captured in and drowned by commercial fish nets.
   Sulids nest colonially. Most nest on the ground (two booby species build stick nests in trees). They lay 1-3 (usually 2) eggs. Both parents incubate by standing on them with the vascularized webs of their feet (they lack brood patches). They incubate for 42-55 days. Both parents help feed the young. Chicks hatch naked but rapidly grow a down coat. Parents feed them by regurgitation. Normally, only one young fledges (3-4 months) - siblicide is common. The surviving chick is fed by parents for a longer period. Young take up to 5 years to gain the adult plumage.
   Most species are sociable, nesting in colonies and often foraging together and with pelicans.
   Their eyes are set forward contributing to binocular vision.  
   Sulids are plunge divers and pursue their prey under water using their wings for propulsion. They generally enter the water with little splash. They feed on fish (especially schooling herring and mackerel) and squid. They also take flying fish. Their skin contains air sacs that cushion their impact during dives.
Northern Gannet
  Northern Gannet, Morus bassanus.
North Edisto River over
Deveaux Banks
                                             SI Web
All Sulids:

   Abbott's Booby, Papasula abbotti. Pelagic, breeding in trees on islands - Christmas Island, ranges at sea in the east Indian Ocean.
   Northern Gannett, Morus bassanus. Pelagic, breeding on open islands and coastal cliffs in the north Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of St. Lawrence,
      Newfoundland, New Brunswick, and around Iceland, the Faroes and British Isles, northern France, and coastal Norway. Ranges at sea south
      to the Gulf coast, Cape Verde Islands and northwest Africa and the Mediterranean and northwest to northern Russia and the Baltic Sea.
   Cape Gannet, Morus capensis. Pelagic, breeding on cliffs on islands off south Africa from Namibia to South Africa. Ranges at sea north to the
      Gulf of Guinea and Kenya. Subspecies of Northern Gannet?
   Australian (Australasian) Gannet, Morus serrator. Pelagic, breeding on open ground on islands of Australasia in southeastern Australia and
      Tasmania to New Zealand. Ranges at sea along coasts north to central western Australia and southern Queensland and throughout New
      Zealand waters. May also be a subspecies of the Northern Gannet?   
    Blue-footed Booby, Sula nebouxii, Pelagic, breeding on open ground on islands off the Pacific coast of western Middle and South America in
       the Gulf of California, off western Mexico, off Pacific Honduras, in the Gulf of Panama, in the Galapagos Islands, and along the coast from
       Colombia south to Peru. Click for Galapagos birds.
   Peruvian_Booby, Sula variegata. Pelagic, breeding on cliffs. Islands off the Pacific coast of South America from northern Peru to central Chile.
       Ranges at sea from Colombia to southern Chile.
   Masked Booby, Sula dactylatra. Pelagic, breeding on open ground on oceanic islands of the Pacific Ocean. From Mexico through tropical
      Pacific from Ryukyu and the Hawaiian Islands south to islands off eastern Australia and on the Galapagos and islands from Colombia south
      to Chile. In the Atlantic-Caribbean it breeds from the Yucatan Peninsula and Florida Keys south to Brazil and Ascension Island, In the Indian
      Ocean, it breeds from the Red Sea to northwestern Australia. It ranges widely in tropical oceans, rarely north to the Gulf coast and North
      Carolina. [Includes the Nazca Booby, Sula granti, recognized as a separate species by Dickinson (2003) and Clements (2007).]
      Click for Galapagos birds.
   Red-footed Booby, Sula sula. Breeding in brush and trees on islands from Bonin and Hawaii south to north eastern Australia and New
      Caledonia. Also found off Mexico and Costa Rica and the Galapagos. In the Atlantic-Caribbean, off Belize, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela. Found
      from Aldabra east to Cocos Island in the Indian Ocean. The species ranges at sea in tropical oceans from Sinaloa to Panama and the Gulf
      coast to eastern Brazil.
   Brown Booby, Sula leucogaster. Pelagic - breeds on open ground and cliffs on islands in the Pacific Ocean (Bonin and Hawaii south to the
      south China Sea and northern Australia and New Caledonia and off western Mexico, Honduras, Costa Rica, the Bay of Panama, and off
      Colombia), Atlantic-Caribbean region (Yucatan, Bahamas, south through the Antilles and Middle and South America east to Los Hermanos
      Island and from Cape Verde Islands and the Gulf of Guinea south to central Brazil and Ascension Island), and Indian Ocean (from the Red
      Sea and Gulf of Aden to the Seychelles, Cocos and Christmas Islands, and Gunnungapi. Ranges at sea in tropical oceans north to Japan,
      California, and Nova Scotia and south to Ecuador, South Africa, and southeast Australia.
Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge
Nesting Warning
  Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, Kauai. Headland (above left) and cove (above). White dots seen in the larger views are Red-footed Boobies, Sula sula. Red-tailed Tropicbirds, Phaethon rubricauda, also nest on these slopes. Burrows in the image to the right belong to petrels/shearwaters, not flying in the daytime. [A Wedge-tailed Shearwater, Puffinus pacificus, was seen off the southern coast of Kauai during our visit and could be a candidate for these burrows.]
Kilauea Point
Kilauea Point, Kauai. Offshorebreeding island north of the lighthouse... A Laysan Albatross, Diomedea immutabilis, was seen off the point.  
  Banner - Blue-footed Booby. Puerto Egas, Santiago. Galapagos.