The blue-footed booby is perhaps the most recognizable bird in the Galapagos due to its signature startling blue feet. These seabirds are not unique to the Galapagos, but native to subtropical and tropical regions of the Pacific Ocean. Having the best blue feet is a sign of virility in males so they proudly put them on display in an elaborate mating ritual. They lift each foot up and then down while strutting about in front of the female. Scientific research suggests that the healthier the male, the stronger the blue of its feet. The blue color is thought to come from the play of light over the structure of their feet instead of what they eat.
Blue-footed boobies feed near shore by plunge diving. They can dive from great heights and typically catch fish not on the way down, but on the way back up to the surface. They can see well underwater and may fish singly, in pairs, or in larger flocks. While diving, blue-footed boobies may hit the water at around sixty miles per hour and can go as deep as eighty-two feet below the surface.
Red-footed boobies are the smallest of the three booby species found in the Galapagos. There are two morpho-types of the red-footed boobies in the Islands: one with brown feathers and one with white. They both have bright red feet and blue beaks. The red-footed booby is most often seen perched on branches or in nests in trees. They are only found on a few islands in the Galapagos such as Genovesa and Marchena.
The Nazca booby was previously called the masked or hooded booby because of the black outline around their face. They have beautiful snow-white feathers with wings lined in black. The Nazca booby breeds throughout the year, with colonies on different islands nesting at different times of the year. The Nazca booby feeds farther offshore than the blue-footed booby. If the female Nazca booby lays two eggs, typically only one chick survives. The first chick born is usually larger and stronger than the second chick, so it is more likely to survive. In some cases one chick will actually push the weaker bird out of the nest. The survival of the stronger chick helps to ensure that good genes are passed on to the next generation.